AFT Guild Safe Campus/District Re-Opening Principles -SDCCD (6/19/2020)

From: Jim Mahler <aftjim@mac.com>
Subject: AFT Guild Safe Campus/District Re-Opening Principles
Date: June 19, 2020 at 8:59:02 AM PDT
To: Constance Carroll, Maria Senour, Craig Milgrim, Mary Graham, Bernie Rhinerson, Sean Elo
Cc: Will Surbrook, Bonnie Ann Dowd

Dear Chancellor Carroll and Board Members,

As the political pressure builds for campuses and offices to re-open, we want to be sure this is done in a careful and thoughtful way with the health and safety of our employees and students being our number one concern.

Our AFT Guild Executive Council with feedback from our members has drafted the set of principles listed below to help guide us through this process.

We hope you will take them to heart as you move forward with any campus or office re-opening plans.

Sincerely,
Jim

Jim Mahler, President
AFT Guild, Local 1931

  • Although we have learned a lot about COVID-19, and now know some ways to prevent its spread, there is still much that is unknown and needs further research. There is still no cure, no vaccine, and no herd immunity has yet to be established to this virus.  Preliminary results only inform further investigation. As more data becomes available, scientists will be able to form a consensus, but we are just not there yet. Additionally, no system of trace testing, a critical method to locate and halt the spread of infectious disease, has been established at the local, state or federal level. Consequently, our ignorance of the location and magnitude of COVID-19 will undermine our best efforts to minimize our exposure to it.
  • Therefore, rushing to re-open with disregard to recommended and preventative safeguards is premature and dangerous.  An early re-opening places the lives of our employees and students at risk.  States that have begun re-opening are already experiencing a resurgence in cases.
  • We recognize some classified professionals may need to return to jobs that can’t be performed at home, but these must be rare exceptions, allowable only with strict safety protocols in place, including no contact with the general public and strictly followed physical distancing protocols with co-workers.  District Child Development Centers and child development laboratory classrooms would be an exception. Health and safety protocols that align with state and county education guidelines will be developed and adhered to by all staff, faculty and students.
  • We do also see a need for some very limited re-openings in areas where online teaching cannot occur, and we have a high confidence level of student compliance.
  • No employee should be required to return to work if they are able to complete the majority of their work remotely.
  • No employee in a high risk health category, or who is caring for or residing with someone in a high risk health category, should be required to return to work.
  • Faculty should be allowed access to their offices, labs, and classrooms, but only for individual use, and only when limited contact with others, following physical distancing and other safety protocols, can be assured.
  • Adequate training on safety protocols, physical distancing restrictions, etc., needs to be provided to all employees upon their return to campus or District office.  This includes employees who are already working on site.  Masks must be worn properly by all employees and students whenever contact with others is possible.
  • The potential lack of student and employee compliance must not be underestimated.  Anything more than an extremely limited campus re-opening is sure to result in students coming on to campus without masks or adherence to the strict safety protocols we must have in place to ensure everyone’s safety.  We do not have enough personnel to ensure compliance.  These types of cases will be orders of magnitude greater than the usual number of “disruptive student” issues we currently cope with each semester.
  • Thus, the Guild urges the District to exercise extreme caution as it moves forward with its plan for re-opening our campusesand offices and strongly recommends to the District, and to the employees we represent, to be strategic and cautious while planning for any type of reopening until public safety can be guaranteed, both State and County guidelines have authorized school re-openings, adequate testing and contact tracing protocols are in place, and that sufficient advance notice be provided to all employees so they can prepare for any transitions back to the workplace.

bc: AFT Guild Members