In July the United Teachers Los Angeles union announced that Los Angeles Unified District schools effectively would not reopen unless certain conditions are met:
- privately operated publicly funded charter schools are shut down,
- police are defunded,
- Medicare-for-All government-run health care is passed,
- a statewide wealth tax is implemented,
- housing for homeless is fully funded,
- “financial Support for Undocumented Students and Families,” and
- they want a federal bailout because “the CARES and HEROES Acts provided funding for K-12, both fell far short of what would be needed to rescue districts and state and local governments.”
The source cited for this claim is the National Education Association, the largest labor union and special interest group in the United States. Since the UTLA issued their demands, many other teachers unions have followed suit.
In mid-July, the Orange County Board of Education approved recommendations for the reopening of schools in the fall. The board voted 4-1 to approve a set of guidelines, including regular temperature checks, frequent hand washing and thorough cleanings of classrooms, offices and buses.
“The Orange County Board of Education concludes that it is not acceptable to delay the opening of public schools as it is not in the best interests of our children and families. Further, it is not clear that an effective cure or a vaccination for SARS-CoV-2 infection (Covid-19) will be developed in the near future if at all.”
“Declaring this in the face of widely held misconceptions and mixed messages about Covid-19 – particularly about its lethality and contagiousness to children – requires fact-finding and courage, as we move through these uncertainties together.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reported the following in late June 1 : “Although many questions remain, the preponderance of evidence indicates that children and adolescents are less likely to be symptomatic and less likely to have severe disease resulting from Covid-19 infection. In addition, children may be less likely to become infected and to spread infection. Policies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within schools must be balanced with the known harms to children, adolescents, families, and the community by keeping children at home.”
“We recognize that this conclusion is dramatically and significantly different from some common misconceptions about the disease. It was a conclusion that our panelists – and many in the medical community – reached long before the AAP released its recommendations. For that reason, we asked these experts to attend a special June 2020 special community forum at the Orange County Department of Education’s Costa Mesa office. Each board member had the opportunity to place an expert of choice on the panel, and the board approved the resulting expert panel at its regular board meeting.”
Notably, the board made the decision to not require masks or social distancing, in fact advising against it.
Despite the board’s recommendation, some of the largest school districts in Orange County, say they will not follow their board of education’s recommendation to return students and teachers to the classroom, CNN reported.
The OC Board addressed the decision to close the schools in March 2020 in order to meet what state officials said was the short-term goal of “flattening the curve,” to slow the spread of Covid-19. “But continuing the shutdown despite new science and data, our experts said, has been a mistake with disastrous implications for children, their families and community. It hardly goes without saying that poorer families with fewer options, and families with special-needs children, have suffered most from the shutdown.”
Parents take charge
Kirsten Daffron, a parent of high school kids in Newport Beach, notified the Globe of her concerns, and offered a solution:
“I have two boys at Corona Del Mar High School in Newport Beach, CA. The majority of our community really wants our kids to go back to school at the intended start date and in-person (safely of course). I started this petition and it has gained a lot of traction. I also included a list of current COVID cases in Orange County. I’ve never done this before and quite frankly, was shocked (happily) when I saw all the signatures start coming in! It is still going strong.”
Kirsten’s petition already has 3,172 signatures, and more are coming.
Let OC Schools Open By District, NOT By County:
Governor Newsom has announced that schools will be virtual ONLY next month until the districts can show a 14 consecutive day decrease in Covid cases. This will be nearly impossible for Orange County, California because of cities like Santa Ana and Anaheim who have high percentages of positive cases.
Districts like Tustin, Newport-Mesa, Huntington Beach, and Laguna Beach have much lower cases and could start safe, in person schooling much sooner, possibly next month.
The re-opening of schools should be per cases per cities, NOT per county. Please sign this petition so we can get Newsom’s attention as soon as possible! Help us get our kids back to school!
The American Academy of Pediatrics specifically recommended:
“The AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.”
The AAP put their recommendation in perspective: “policy makers should acknowledge that COVID-19 policies are intended to mitigate, not eliminate, risk.”