SCTA Proposes Mandatory Vaccines and Mandatory Testing for Students and Staff
· Comprehensive Proposals to SCUSD Also Address Staffing Crisis, Additional Covid Protections, and District’s Lack of Transparency
· Over 1000 Students Per Day Are Without a Regular or Substitute Teacher in the Classroom
On Wednesday, the Sacramento City Teachers Association (SCTA) presented comprehensive proposals to the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) that include mandatory vaccinations for all district students and staff who are eligible and mandatory weekly Covid testing for all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status.
Despite limited Covid testing, SCUSD has reported an average of 19 new Covid cases every school day since classes began September 2. The number includes those affected by an outbreak at the district’s New Joseph Bonnheim Charter School. The outbreak led the Sacramento County Department of Health to recommend the school’s closure, but Superintendent Jorge Aguilar stated he would only honor an order to close the school and not a recommendation. Mr. Aguilar kept the experts’ recommendation from parents and the school community.
In addition to mandatory vaccination and testing, the SCTA proposal would require the district to follow health and safety recommendations from the state and county health departments and the California Department of Occupational Health and Safety (Cal-OSHA). SCTA’s proposal requires recommendations from the state and county to be disclosed.
The proposal from Sac City teachers also addresses another major crisis engulfing the district—the massive staffing shortage of full-time classroom teachers and substitutes. The district currently has 200 vacancies among certificated teachers, and since classes began on September 2, this has left an average of 39 classes a day (with approximately 1170 students) without either a regular or substitute teacher in the classroom. The SCTA proposal would require the district to notify parents when their students’ class is without a regular teacher or substitute. The district currently does not disclose this information.
The SCTA health and safety proposal can viewed here.
The SCTA proposal regarding substitutes and transparency can be viewed here.
SCTA’s August 25 proposal to extend the contract can be viewed here.
“The health and safety of students and staff and ensuring that our students have teachers in the classroom should be our top priorities,” said David Fisher, a second-grade teacher and the president of the Sacramento City Teachers Association. “SCTA’s comprehensive proposals would help the district achieve these goals.”
Staffing shortages also are holding back the 1,600 students seeking an alternative to in-person instruction. SCUSD has been unable to provide Independent Study courses as required by state law (AB 130) because of a lack of teachers. Three weeks into the school year, the district still has not been able to enroll more than 600 of the students who are seeking Independent Study. In the spring, Sac City Teachers repeatedly urged the district to create a virtual learning academy to be prepared for such a need; the district rejected SCTA’s proposals.
In contrast to other school districts that are responding to the historic teacher shortage by increasing salaries and offering bonuses and other incentives, Superintendent Aguilar and the SCUSD school board have demanded unprecedented givebacks from employees, including cuts that would reduce the average teachers’ take-home pay by $750 per month.
SCTA’s proposal would reverse those cuts by extending the current collective bargaining agreement with a modest (3.5 percent) across-the-board increase to recruit and retain current staff. The proposal also recommends delaying the remainder of negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement until the spring to enable all parties to address the immediate crisis.
SCTA has proposed increasing the salaries of substitute teachers and providing sick leave for those substitutes who tested positive for Covid or who showed Covid symptoms. The district has suggested only temporarily increasing salaries for substitutes, while it continues to demand on-going givebacks that would reduce substitute teachers’ take-home pay, and without any additional Covid protections for substitute teachers like sick leave.
“Sac City teachers have been going above and beyond in their efforts to educate our students,” Fisher said. “Our district is in crisis. Superintendent Aguilar and the SCUSD have a go-it-alone attitude that is failing to address student needs. Teachers can do even more to help get the district on the right path, if the district will work with us.”