Educators Call for “Safety First” to Protect Students, Communities Before Reopening School Campuses

Advertising Campaign Reinforces Need for Vaccines and Multilayered Protective Measures Echoing the CDC Guidelines

BURLINGAME — The California Teachers Association launched an ad campaign today highlighting the ongoing threat of COVID-19 and its variants, and the importance of vaccines and multilayered safety measures as politicians and school districts ready to open additional schools for in-person instruction and accommodate more students on already-open campuses. The television ads, titled “Safety First,” warn of schools reopening and then having to shut back down if multiple layers of protection aren’t in place. Many districts throughout the state have reopened classrooms only to have outbreaks force immediate closures and quarantines and severe disruption to teaching and learning. Watch the ads in English and Spanish.

“The COVID-19 virus is still a very real and widespread threat,” said CTA President E. Toby Boyd. “While the pandemic has been a challenge for students, their families, and educators, no one wants to be back with their students more than California teachers and education support professionals. Reopening schools and classrooms before it’s safe to do so will put people at risk and lead to classroom closures and quarantined staff, students and, in some cases, entire schools. Schools must have the resources they need for layers of protection that include prioritizing educators for vaccine distribution.”

The new TV ads, running in both English and Spanish, warn of what happens when officials and school leaders don’t put safety first, and feature recent headlines about outbreaks within school communities and school closures. The spots stress the need for a multilayered approach to prevention that includes proper ventilation, mask-wearing, robust testing and tracing programs, and six-feet social distancing between students, warning that the virus will spread, and schools will be forced to close down without those measures in place. Online ads are also part of the campaign.

Reflecting polling of California parents, who believe safety should be a top priority in reopening schools, the ads conclude saying “Educators and parents agree: Reopen Schools Safely.” In a related news conference Friday, parents from around the state expressed fears and concerns over pressure to reopen schools amid critically high transmission rates, new virus variants, lack of safety measures and equipment, and unclear vaccine distribution plans.

Educators have made clear to lawmakers, on numerous occasions, that a safe return to in-person teaching and learning requires prioritizing vaccines for educators and staff as well as ensuring low community transmission rates, masking, PPE, proper ventilation, COVID-19 testing and tracing, and more. Most recently, school employees and educators issued to lawmakers CLASSES, a pathway to reopening schools safely.

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