“Educators and parents are in complete agreement: School districts need to err on the side of caution. If there are any questions about safety or if any district’s plan is missing any details, that district must start with remote learning. If there is a single case of COVID in a school, that building must shut down for 14 days. And any days in which remote learning is used must count toward the 180-day school requirements. These criteria should be non-negotiable everywhere.” - NYSUT President Andy Pallotta
NYSUT is working closely with state officials to ensure our members' concerns are front and center in all discussions regarding the reopening of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the value of in-person instruction is undeniable, the safety and wellbeing of students and staff are paramount. Schools must be safe havens for students; we must not allow them to become environments that foster the spread of the COVID-19 virus. NYSUT has stressed that any plan to reopen schools is based on the most up-to-date science.
The union's Board of Directors has reinforced that commitment with the passage of a resolution demanding a responsible plan for reopening P-12 schools.
That resolution includes a call that:
- Staff who are in a high COVID-19 risk category have access to special accommodations and workplace adjustments — including the ability to work remotely.
- A mechanism is put in place to allow the closure of buildings and/or districts in the event of positive cases at a school or a regional spike in infection rates.
- Establish and properly fund safeguards, including social distancing, face coverings, hand sanitizing stations, availability of other cleaning materials, and updates to ventilation systems.
- A rolling test regimen be part of all school communities to identify infections — and that there be rapid testing, contact tracing, daily screening, and isolation measures established.
The NYSUT Board of Directors has also passed a resolution concerning higher education reopening plans.
NYSUT will remain vigilant as schools reopen to ensure the safety of students and staff, and the union will push back against any and all decisions that pose a risk to our communities.
NYSUT staff will continue to assist local unions statewide so that our members' work conditions are as safe as possible and that their voices are continuously heard throughout this uncertain time.