Philip DeFauw, 58, of White Lake, Mich receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination from the Oakland County Health Division Vaccinator Sarahanne Kevelin, 24, of Clinton Twp., Mich. at Suburban Showplace in Novi, Mich. on Jan. 23, 2021. DeFauw says he retired as a middle school band teacher after 33 years and now substitute teaches with special-needs children that don’t wear masks. “My doctor said don’t go back, but now I can,” says DeFauw.

Philip DeFauw, 58, of White Lake, Mich receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination from the Oakland County Health Division Vaccinator Sarahanne Kevelin, 24, of Clinton Twp., Mich. at Suburban Showplace in Novi, Mich. on Jan. 23, 2021. DeFauw says he retired as a middle school band teacher after 33 years and now substitute teaches with special-needs children that don’t wear masks. “My doctor said don’t go back, but now I can,” says DeFauw.

CA teachers union wants schools in ‘purple’ counties to stay closed for 100 days; vaccinations for staff

By Diana Lambert

EdSource

The California Teachers Association has told Governor Gavin Newsom that the union wants schools in counties with high Covid-19 infection rates to remain in distance learning for 100 days so the state can develop a more aggressive plan to slow the spread of the virus and have all school staff vaccinated.

“We need a clear and coordinated state, county and local plan that puts the health and safety of our communities first and does not take shortcuts toward the path of opening schools in person,” union leaders stated in a letter Wednesday to Newsom . “To do otherwise will continue the ‘yo-yo’ effect we warned of last summer and this fall — opening schools, only to then close them because we failed to have the necessary layered protections and asymptomatic testing in place.”

To make that happen, the union is asking the governor to keep all schools in counties in the purple, or widespread, tier of the state’s tracking system in distance learning during the 100-day period. Counties in that tier have more than seven cases per 100,000 residents or have more than 8% of test results positive over a seven-day period.

The union also is asking for enforcement of health orders and workplace regulations and increased Covid-19 testing.

The letter challenges the governor’s plan to begin reopening schools to some students next month. His “Safe Schools for All” incentive plan has also drawn criticism from school superintendents.

This is not the first time the union has called for enhanced safety precautions and vaccinations for school employees to reopen schools.

But the letter does come as school districts across the state have been struggling to figure out how to vaccinate their staff with an unpredictable vaccine supply and lack of statewide coordination of vaccinations.

Although teachers and other school employees are included in the next phase (Phase 1B) of the state’s vaccine rollout they are not being vaccinated in many California counties, which are still vaccinating healthcare workers and nursing home residents in Phase 1A.

Timing for vaccinating teachers and school employees depends on how a county health department decides to prioritize vaccines within Phase 1B, which also includes everyone 65 and older, agriculture and food workers and emergency service personnel. There is no guidance that puts teachers at the top of that group.

In the letter the union recommends that schools be considered for vaccination clinic sites, calling them familiar, convenient and trusted locations that can play an important role in vaccinating people in the community. Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner has also asked that schools in the district be designated as official community vaccination centers.

The governor’s plan would give school districts $450 to $750 per student if they offer in-person instruction to students in transitional kindergarten through second grade by Feb. 15 and third- through sixth-grade by March 15. Districts that start a month later can get $100 less. Districts would need to have comprehensive health and safety plans in place, including COVID-19 testing.

In its letter, the union says it has concerns about the timeline for implementing the plan and the use of Proposition 98 dollars for school safety, but is committed to reopening schools.

President Joe Biden’s COVID relief package is in line with the union’s requests to the governor and would be needed to fund all the necessary safety precautions required in order to return to school, said Claudia Briggs, union spokesperson.

Vaccinating teachers is also a key part of Biden’s plan to reopen schools.

The American Rescue Plan will provide the resources schools will need to protect students and teachers in order to reopen, including ventilation, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, during a virtual meeting hosted by national teachers unions Thursday.

“So not only, when you have the public health measures of masking, better ventilation, better spacing, but if we can get them (school staff) vaccinated as quickly as possible, that would hopefully get to the goal that we all want,” Fauci said.

This story was originally published by EdSource.

Bay Area NewsCaliforniaCoronaviruseducationPolitics

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted changes to The City's streets including Slow Streets closures to increase open space access and the Shared Spaces program, which allows businesses to use public right-of-ways for dining, retail and services. (Examiner illustration)
COVID is reshaping the streets of San Francisco

Walk down Page Street, which is closed to thru-traffic, and you might… Continue reading

At a rally in February, Monthanus Ratanapakdee, left, and Eric Lawson remember Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai man who died after he was pushed to the pavement in San Francisco. (Ekevara Kitpowsong/Examiner file photo)
The criminal justice system can’t fix what’s wrong in our community

My 87-year-old mother walks gingerly, slowly, deliberately, one step in front of… Continue reading

Superintendent Vincent Matthews said some students and families who want to return will not be able to do so at this time. “We truly wish we could reopen schools for everyone,” he said. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFUSD sets April reopening date after reaching tentative agreement with teachers union

San Francisco Unified School District has set April 12 as its reopening… Continue reading

José Victor Luna and Maria Anabella Ochoa, who cite health reasons for continuing distance learning, say they have been enjoying walking in Golden Gate Park with their daughters Jazmin, a first grader, and Jessica, a third grader. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Some SFUSD families prefer distance learning

Health issues, classroom uncertainties among reasons for staying home

Most Read