As the 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.
To this end, your AFT Guild Executive Council has drafted the set of principles listed below to help guide us through this process.
Before we issue this as a “final” statement, we would like to solicit your feedback. Is there anything we are overlooking, overstating, or understating? Please let me know and we will make every effort to incorporate your suggestions into our final statement.
Looking forward to your feedback!
- Although we have learned a lot about COVID-19, and know how some ways to prevent its spread, there is still much that is unknown and needs further research, and there is still no cure, no vaccine, and no herd immunity to this virus.
- Therefore, rushing to re-open where we disregard the safeguards that have been put in place to prevent its spread is both premature and dangerous as re-opening too soon will place the lives of our employees and students at risk. South Korea is already experiencing this in their schools.
- While we do see a need for some classified professionals to return to jobs that can’t be performed at home, these must be rare exceptions, and only allowed where strict safety protocols are put in place, and where there is no contact with the general public and physical distancing protocols are strictly followed if working around others. District Child Development Centers would be the exception to this as children will need to be brought to the Centers. Extensive safety protocols must be developed and followed that align with state and county education guidelines.
- 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. These include areas like the allied health fields and the police, fire, and EMT academies.
- 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 someone in a high risk health category, should be required to return to work.
- Faculty should be allowed access to their offices and labs, but only for individual use, and only when no contact with others can be assured.
- The lack of student compliance (and that of other employees as well) 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. The amount of willful defiance 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 campuses and 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.
*Please note, we want to keep this as a general statement of principles, so we don’t want to get into fine detail like how many hand sanitizers there must be per square foot, etc.