SACRAMENTO — California Teachers Association President E. Toby Boyd issued the following statement as Gov. Gavin Newsom, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announce an agreement to return to in-person teaching and learning:
“The plan announced today by Gov. Newsom and legislative leaders gets us one step closer to rejoining our students for in-person teaching and learning. From day one, our priority has been the safety of our students, their families, educators and school staff. Today’s proposed agreement includes the multi-tiered safety measures educators have been calling for. It recognizes community transmission rates and the importance of prioritizing educators for the COVID-19 vaccine before reopening for in-person instruction. We commend the governor and the Legislature for recognizing those concerns.
“As community infection rates decline, more counties move into less restrictive tiers, and educators are increasingly vaccinated statewide, this plan will help ensure transparency and accountability by requiring school districts to submit safety plans before reopening, posting plans on school district websites, and enforcing the collection of statewide school data. The additional $2 billion provides for an equitable distribution of resources to help districts provide multilayered safety protocols. The 10 percent set aside for vaccines will get shots into the arms of educators who haven’t already received it. Masking and social distancing will be required. Necessary ventilation improvements will be addressed. All research shows that asymptomatic testing for educators and students continues to be important for a safe reopening. We appreciate the legislation requiring testing for schools with high community transmission rates, but will continue to support robust testing programs as outlined and clearly stated in the CDPH guidance. President Biden’s $650 million investment to expand testing opportunities for K-8 schools provides for all school districts to implement regular, ongoing rapid antigen testing.
“On behalf of our students, we thank lawmakers for providing funding that will support the work we do to address learning recovery and resiliency. The $4.6 billion will allow school districts to dedicate the time and resources to equitably support the social and emotional needs of students and target a whole-child recovery. Implementation and enforcement of these regulations and safety guidelines at the local level and statewide will be the next step which will include upholding local bargaining under the Employee Educational Employment Relations Act and enforcing safety standards. This pandemic has been difficult and wearing on all of us, and it is going to continue to take all of us to make opening our schools for in-person instruction safe, stable and successful. We are reviewing the proposal’s details more closely, and we look forward to working with local educators as they negotiate with districts to safely reopen for in-person teaching and learning beginning in one month.”