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SCTA’s 5-Point Framework to Reopen Sac City Schools

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The Sacramento City Teachers Association presented a “framework outlining necessary steps required to bring students back to school this school year.  SCTA’s recommendations were influenced by the “Classroom Learning and Safe Schools for Employees and Students (CLASSES):  A Pathway to Bringing Students Back to School  plan developed by the California Teachers Association in conjunction with the California Federation of Teachers, the Service Employee International Union and other groups representing school employees. Released this month, the plan outlines steps needed to physically and safely return to schools.

“Our goal is to get everyone back into the school buildings – students, teachers and other school workers—and do it safely,” said SCTA President David Fisher, a second-grade teacher.  “We can do this if SCUSD takes the necessary steps to prioritize vaccines for staff, provides schools with proper ventilation to mitigate the virus, and adopts other steps we’ve outlined.”

The educators’ framework for reopening touches on five areas:

Vaccination:  Teachers have proposed that all staff reporting to schools and worksites in SCUSD have the opportunity (both in eligibility and access) to be vaccinated. This week, in an editorial entitled Reopening California schools is an equity issue — and teachers must be vaccinated,The Sacramento Bee editorial board echoed this position. https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article249134995.html

VentilationEducators this week presented the district with very specific guidelines for air filtration ratings and filters based on recommendation from national experts that would be required for centralized HVAC systems and portable air filtration units. SCTA also has called for the purchase and installation ofcarbon dioxide monitors, according to the provisions of state law AB 841, which provides additional funding to school districts that meet particular ventilation-system standards.  The SCUSD’s purchase of untested, portable air filters has been a source of controversy in the recent weeks.  https://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2021/02/05/sac-city-unified-air-purifiers/

MitigationEducators also asked the district to enact a clearly understood multi-layered approach to protect students and staff, that would include mandatory wearing of masks, social distancing, asymptomatic testing, contact tracing and rigorous attention to sanitizing desks and cleaning schools as well as attention to hygiene for students.  Prior to the pandemic, many of SCUSD’s school buildings lacked warm water in student bathrooms and often were not regularly supplied with soap.

Low Levels of Community Spread:  Schools in Sac City should not reopen for in-person instruction until Sacramento County has reached the Red Tier or better, for at least two weeks.  This standard should be met in all zip codes served by SCUSD. Sacramento County is still in the Purple Tier and educators are concerned about the threat posed by highly contagious COVID-19 variants.   https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus-updates-covid-variant-found-153447826.html

Student Interventions:  With COVID relief packages already passed by the federal government and included in Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed California budget, SCUSD will receive more than $225 million in additional funding.  In addition, President Biden has proposed $130 billion for schools in the COVID-19 relief bill now moving through Congress.

SCTA is proposing that a significant portion of funds directed to SCUSD be used for after-school tutoring, summer school, to fund lower class sizes, and other areas of support for students who may have fallen behind when classes went virtual or who have had other issues that posed challenges to learning, particularly students with special needs.

SCTA also is proposing that SCUSD continue to provide an online option for students with acute health issues, or who may have better education outcomes in a distance-learning environment.

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