Delay School Reopening
Petition to Albuquerque Public Schools and NMPED
Petition to Delay Reopening Schools in August 2020
Petition to Delay Reopening Schools in August 2020: We, the undersigned, agree that as of July 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not safe to reopen schools in August 2020 for the staff, students, and the community at large. It is understood that reopening schools is vital to restoring our community to some level of normalcy, and that children are facing real issues including social isolation, educational losses, and mental health concerns. As we have seen from our neighboring states, reopening too quickly has not only cost lives, it has actually contributed to major economic setbacks. We need to creatively approach this pandemic and reject the idea that profits are more important than people. Whereas the number of cases of infection in New Mexico and the US have increased and are trending upwards, opening the schools would endanger the entire population. Whereas the PED and APS have failed to provide a reentry plan that is feasible for the safety of students and staff, many lives will potentially be lost due to inadequate planning and lack of funding. Whereas maintaining social distancing is impossible in schools, even if there are only half the students there at a time, the spread of the virus is inevitable. Whereas PED and APS have failed to fund schools to hire more teachers, nurses, custodians, educational assistants and essential service providers to meet the requirements for reopening, it is not advisable to reopen schools. Whereas the PED and APS believe that the virus is still so dangerous that they conduct meetings via an online format; nonetheless, they expect employees to return to school in person; this double standard is unacceptable and nonsensical. Whereas studies suggest that pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission of the virus could account for up to 50% of the spread, a daily temperature check is not a sufficient indicator of actual infection. Whereas the nature of many types of classes, in addition to gathering for meals, exposes students and staff to high risk activities during this pandemic because masks are not a viable option, the likelihood of increased respiratory droplets in the environment is still dangerous. Therefore be it resolved, that the harm caused by reopening schools outweighs any benefit that may materialize from a return in August. We can best serve our students, at this time, by devoting our energy to full-time online curriculum. The health and safety of our communities is paramount and can only be achieved through distance learning during this health crisis. We must practice patience and a willingness to change our system that will certainly endanger more lives while facing an international pandemic.
Petition to Eric J. Holcomb
Indiana for the Safe Return to Schools
We are Hoosier educators, school staff, parents, students, and concerned individuals who demand a safe return to campuses. We refuse to return to campus until our counties report no new cases of COVID-19 for at least 14 days. Until then, we demand that our students and school staff have adequate access to all necessary technology to resume distance learning. Upon return, we demand adequate supplies, personnel, and facilities to safely share space on campus and react aggressively to any resurgence of COVID-19. To do this, we are calling upon school districts and legislators to do the following: Provide publicized and specific guidelines for reopening are based on how many cases there are locally in the district, including clear plans around when schools should close and reopen due to COVID-19 spikes. Screen staff and students upon arrival for a history of exposure and symptoms. This screening could include but is not limited to temperature screenings, contact tracing, and other means of tracking the disease. Consistently provide adequate amounts of sanitizing equipment and PPE for all staff members and students. Mandate that mask or facial shield use will be mandatory for both staff members and students at all times in the classrooms, buses, and hallways. Mandate that teachers will not be required to teach in-person and online simultaneously. This includes live-streaming classroom teaching. No teacher shall be required to maintain a combined online and in-person workload that exceeds a full load of classes. Maintain student privacy under FERPA during online learning and provide equity in internet access, funded by the state. This includes, but is not limited to, providing equipment and internet access for students who need it. Do not take COVID-related sick days from staff members' saved sick days, regardless of whether the teacher has tested positive, someone in their care has tested positive, or they have been told to quarantine/ self-isolate. Do not require staff to fill out return to work forms. Provide staff members with hazard pay. Restore bargaining rights for working conditions in addition to promoting local discussion and bargaining. Create caps on in-person class sizes to allow adequate social distancing (6 feet) in every classroom. Provide accommodations for students and staff who have health conditions that put them at high risk, are in at-risk categories, or live with people who have conditions that put them at increased risk to the COVID-19 virus. Provide increased cleanings, sanitization, and ventilation to make staff and student areas as safe as possible. Have flexible attendance procedures for both staff and students to encourage people to stay home if medically necessary. Mandate that staff absences or staff implementing social distancing and safety measures will not negatively impact their evaluations. Issue waiver days for when schools need to close due to a new case. Follow employee contracts, which include working hours and duty-free lunches. As the members of the Indiana for a Safe Return to Schools, We demand that our states, counties, cities, and school districts be prepared to resume distance learning in case COVID-19 resurges in our counties. We demand that federal, state, and local governments quickly implement all necessary public health measures to respond to a resurgence in our counties. Our demands for a return to lockdown should not be construed as a demand to police or imprison people leading the struggle against police brutality and systemic racism, an essential activity that studies have shown not to increase the spread of COVID-19 substantially. Our demands are intrinsically tied to racial justice movements, as Black and Brown communities have disproportionately borne the brunt of this pandemic and will continue to do so if elected officials force students and staff to return to campus before it is safe.
Petition to Governor Greg Abbott, TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY
Protect teachers and staff by supporting virtual instruction for the 2020-21 School Year!
Texas plans on allowing public school students and their parents to determine whether or not they will choose in-person or virtual instruction for the upcoming school year. However, teachers and staff are not being provided with similar accommodations and will be forced to return to work. This petition seeks to support our teachers and staff by calling on Governor Abbott and TEA to reconsider their decision and allow for the upcoming school year to be conduced exclusively via virtual instruction.
Petition to Phil Murphy
A Letter to the Governor of NJ; Keep Schools Closed, Let Us Remote Teach
Governor Murphy, First off, thank you for all you've done to keep New Jersey safe amid this pandemic. You didn't sign up for this when you ran for election, certainly didn't anticipate anything like this, and yet you've maintained a cool head and done everything you can to make the best decisions for the state. For this reason, I have to ask why you think we will be able to open schools again in September and stay safe? I have been a middle school teacher for nearly two decades now. I've gone through rounds and rounds of testing, increased scrutiny on my practice, more paperwork than I ever dreamed imaginable, and attacks on curriculum all in the name of increasing rigor even though it's made the work I do less personal and, frankly, less effective. I have never, in my eighteen years of teaching, been afraid of going to work and facing the challenges that I've been presented with. In fact, i've relished the opportunity to reach my students and give them the best education I've been able to accomplish. For the first time, I am terrified of going to work in September. My wife is in the high risk category, and the idea of going into school and facing hundreds of children with the very real possibility of me bringing this virus back to her is not something I am looking forward to doing. Schools are not capable of opening in a way that will keep children and staff safe. Social distancing in a school is IMPOSSIBLE. It's not a challenge, it's not a difficulty we must overcome, it is, plain and simple, an impossible task. If indoor dining, which is far easier to control from a social distancing point of view, cannot reopen, why in the world are you telling schools to reopen? The staff of schools are citizens of this state as well as all those others who want to get back to their office jobs, but your mandate that schools reopen in September (even partially) is treating us like guinea pigs in a very dangerous game. I know there's still time before we reopen, but the fact is, we teachers need time to plan for remote learning. We need to use this summer to get the best education to the state's kids as we are able. You know that we are capable of this - we went from regular teaching to remote learning in a couple of days in March. Imagine if we, teachers and administration, had a summer to prepare for the reality of remote learning. Rather than stressing about the impossibilities of masks and social distancing, we could focus our energies on preparing remote classrooms until it is TRULY safe to teach in person again. If you were to abruptly change the mandate and say schools will remain closed in August due to a spike in Coronavirus, and let's face it, it's going to happen again sooner or later, you would have wasted all this precious time that we could be preparing for better teaching remotely. Governor, I ask you, please reconsider your orders about school's reopening. It's simply not safe for students or staff. NJ has recently been rated as the number one state in the country for education. That's something to be extremely proud of, and if we are to maintain that, we need time to prepare for the fall. I want to be with my students as much as anyone, but I am genuinely afraid of the disaster that is looming if we open again in September. Keep the schools closed until it is truly safe for us to return. Thank you.
Petition to Donald J. Trump, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, Change.org, Betsy DeVos
RE-OPENING SCHOOLS WITHOUT A SAFE VACCINE OR CURE FOR COVID IS OUTRAGEOUS!
As a mother of five school aged children, I find it totally absurd and ridiculous to reopen schools without a guaranteed safe vaccine or cure for Covid-19 and cases continuing to go up! I refuse to send my children back to school without better protections. Please sign my petition and send a message that:OUR CHILDRENS HEALTH IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN GOVERNMENT AGENDA! Children are too unpredictable to return to school now! Thinking that they will All wash their hands and keep a mask on throughout the school day is totally ridiculous! Our children's health and safety needs to be TOP PRIORITY PERIOD! Children like to play pranks on each other and may pull off masks, fights etc. which puts others at risk. Wearing mask for extended periods of time is uncomfortable for us as adults as is, and to expect kids especially younger ones to keep masks on throughout the school day is being naive. Until there is a safe vaccine or cure and cases go back down, our children should attend classes remotely or classes should be held outdoors to provide a safer alternative to enrich our childrens minds and keep them safe! I personally don't mind homeschooling my children to give them their best chance and to keep them safe! Schools are breeding grounds for germs in general, especially during the colder months. With Covid being as contagious and rampant, we need safer alternatives to keep our children healthy as well as engaged and educated!
Petition to Superintendent Dr. Jane Stavem, Assistant Superintendent James Nold, Assistant Superintendent of Academic Achievement Teresa Boysen, School Board President Cynthia Mickelson, School Board Vice President Carly Reiter, School Board Member Kate Parker, School Board Member Nan Baker, School Board Member Todd Thoelke, Mayor Paul TenHaken
Safe Return to Sioux Falls Schools: Remote Learning Until Community Suppresses COVID-19
We, the undersigned Sioux Falls School District educators, parents, students, and community members, join in demanding a safe return to school for the 2020-2021 academic year. This means that we need to start the school year with remote learning until COVID-19 is more under control in the Sioux Falls community. We cannot safely, or ethically, return students, teachers, and staff to our school buildings during a worldwide pandemic. If we began with in-person schooling, we would essentially be performing an experiment on our own children, hoping for the best. This is not a chance we should be willing to take; we should be erring on the side of caution in order to save lives and protect our future. Our teachers and students should not be called upon to save our community, even though that is often what we are unfairly asked to do as educators. It is time for our community and our leaders to step up and take this opportunity to protect our children. We, the Sioux Falls community, can be like the bison that circle around their young when a threat approaches. As Pam Belluck so perfectly summarizes in The Daily's episode The Science of School Reopenings, "It's a very precarious situation. And most experts would say, get your community under control, and then open your schools slowly, incrementally, with lots of safeguards in place. And then you'll have a good formula for keeping things under control... Maybe, it will light a fire under communities and get places where they weren't wearing masks and they weren't social distancing to take that seriously. What better goal could there be than getting things together so your school can open safely." Since our Sioux Falls community got our percent positive test rate down in June (~6% weekly average) and then started to reopen, our averages are creeping back up, such that our average weekly percent positive rate is now 9% (and trending upward). We should be driving this metric down, not letting it rebound. This shows that we as a community need to recommit to stopping the spread of COVID-19 with as much focus and energy, but hopefully less disruption, as we did this spring. What could motivate Sioux Falls to do this? A plan that links percent positive testing rates in our community to re-opening the schools. Here’s the basic proposal: No in-person schooling until the weekly percent positive rate is < 3%. When the weekly percent positive rate averages <3% for 2 weeks, in-person schooling can resume with regular COVID-19 testing of teachers and students, universal (this means mandated) mask wearing inside, social distancing, smaller class sizes (<15 students), lots of outdoor time, air filters when possible, and any other recommendations deemed necessary. When the weekly percent positive rate averages <1% for 2 weeks, social distancing measures can be relaxed, but masks are still required inside. When there are zero new coronavirus cases for 2 weeks, then we can start the conversation about lifting the mask restriction, provided testing of teachers continues to occur on a regular basis. **Throughout all of this, we also need to have a stakeholder process for re-opening and determining safety protocols that includes public health experts, classroom teachers, administrators, frontline staff, parents/primary caregivers, and students across a wide racial and socioeconomic spectrum. Decision-making needs to be informed by public health best practices, including but not limited to the CDC, state, and local health experts. There need to be safety protocols and protections, as well as increased mental health supports for all Sioux Falls School District students, families, teachers, and staff. Lastly, there needs to be transparency and open communication with the Sioux Falls School District community: students, educators, staff, parents/primary caregivers, and various other stakeholders. Here’s the background for why these are the proposed targets. An article from Science Magazine entitled School Openings Across Globe Suggest Ways to Keep Coronavirus at Bay, Despite Outbreaks states: "When Science looked at reopening strategies from South Africa to Finland to Israel, some encouraging patterns emerged. Together, they suggest a combination of keeping student groups small and requiring masks and some social distancing helps keep schools and communities safe, and that younger children rarely spread the virus to one another or bring it home. But opening safely, experts agree, isn’t just about the adjustments a school makes. It’s also about how much virus is circulating in the community, which affects the likelihood that students and staff will bring COVID-19 into their classrooms." This aspect (i.e. the viral activity in the community) of these school openings is being too quickly looked over. The studies keep pointing to European openings without clearly stating that their countries have taken much more drastic measures than the US has in order to get their overall virus activity down. Here's some data to consider regarding virus activity in the US vs. the world. The positivity testing rate is the most important metric to consider in understanding virus activity. An article from NPR entitled As Coronavirus Surges, How Much Testing Does Your State Need To Subdue The Virus? explains how having a percent positive testing rate less than 10% is considered a "mitigation" testing level, and having a rate less than 3% is considered a "suppression" level. Getting to a suppression level in Sioux Falls is key in opening up schools in a way that somewhat resembles "normal." As of July 18, Canada, Australia, and most of Western Europe (including Italy and Spain) have a positive testing rate <2%, South Korea's is at 0.2%, China's isn't reported, and the US is at 8.7% (https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus-testing). But the US is a big place and we know that Florida, Texas, and Arizona are accounting for most of the current surge now, so how does Sioux Falls fair? This week our rate is 9%. In April and May, the Sioux Falls positive rate was between 13-36%; after mid-May the testing rate stayed below 12%, but as noted before, there is a clear upward trend in the data. When many of the European countries reopened elementary schools in May, their positive testing rate was <3%, and today many are <1% and <2%. We in Sioux Falls are not doing what we need to be doing in the community to have safe school openings. We need to get our community to average <3% for 2 consecutive weeks before we can safely open schools back up to in-person learning. If we can give the goal teeth by linking school openings to this metric, then we could make some serious progress quickly. How do we do it in our community? Universal mask wearing inside. Increasing testing. Possibly closing indoor seating at restaurants and bars. Another shutdown due to outbreaks in our schools will not be good for kids, parents, families, or our economy. Let’s take this opportunity to protect our students and teachers, which in turn protects our entire city. So, what we're asking is this: To make a plan to get Sioux Falls's percent positive test rate to <3% on our way to zero cases, which includes: Percent positive test rates based on diagnostic molecular testing. Meet stated goal of testing 5% of South Dakota’s population each month (~11,000 per week; at least 5,000 in Sioux Falls area). Regular surveillance testing for teachers and students. Testing results need to be provided to individuals within 2 days. Commitment to test and trace all individuals affected by outbreaks. Promote universal mask wearing indoors, either through business cooperation or city mandate. Create a positive community campaign including schools, arts groups, downtown shops, hospitals, businesses, sports teams, etc. to back the plan and promote mask wearing. Because when it’s safe for schools to re-open, it’s safer for everyone to re-open. Currently, the burden of weighing health and safety against education and employment is falling on individual families, teachers, and staff. This is the opposite of safe or equitable decision-making. We demand leadership from our leaders, both in the school district and the city of Sioux Falls. Prioritize safe school openings now. Make the correct decision immediately to implement remote teaching so educators can begin planning today how to connect with students, make learning engaging, and create impactful lessons. "As educators, we do have a duty to facilitate learning. But this in no way implies we must put our lives on the line to do so, nor does it mean we should put others’ lives at risk." (Teachers: You Are Being Gaslit - Michele Merritt, Ph.D.)
Petition to Parents, Department of Education, Henry McMaster, Lindsey Graham, Donald J. Trump, Palmetto State Teachers Association
Stand Up Against Henry McMaster’s SC Back-to-School All or Nothing Plan
On Wednesday, July 15, 2020, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster announced an “all or nothing” approach to the state’s 2020-2021 school year using partisan politics as a means to force parents and children into a full-time, five day week in person school schedule or a completely home-bound, virtual learning program. This deletes the option for parents and children to be able to have an organized 50% online, 50% public school learning environment where social-distancing and CDC safety recommendations are required. If parents are concerned about their children’s safety they are forced to keep them home, not possible for many working families and affecting our lower socioeconomic sectors adversely, including those who depend on school for meals. Children of parents who understandably have safety concerns over the Covid-19 pandemic will not be able to safely integrate back into a partial in-person learning environment which provides stability for their education, social development, and mental health. Please sign this petition if you do not agree with Henry McMaster’s all or nothing approach to this issue.
Petition to US Congress, US Governors
COVID-19: Do Not Re-Open US Schools/Universities
US schools cannot be allowed to reconvene in the current circumstances. This is not a political issue. It is not an issue for debate. It is the simple physical protection of our youth, our children. One of the earliest cases to die of COVID-19 was a 14-year-old boy. His youth was not immunity, and multiple medical organizations have been clear how arduous the disease can be on a growing body (https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-in-babies-and-children). Like polio, we will undoubtedly be seeing the physical repercussions of this pandemic among a generation; but, unlike polio, we have the knowledge and opportunity to limit contact factors and further spread among our children now! We do not need to become yet another historic pandemic marked by tiny coffins and tiny graves. We do not need to bury or scar our children needlessly. The data has already been provided and proofed among other nations as well as in our own hospitals. The United States is not presently equipped to return to school, especially when its president is attempting to use funding as blackmail rather than focusing on financing safety measures! If mask protocols can be consistently implemented, if school days can be significantly shortened and class sizes significantly pared down—as with successful measures in the commercial sector—then there may be some viability for a return to school (https://www.npr.org/2020/06/30/884658409/watch-live-senate-hearing-on-reopening-schools-workplaces-amid-coronavirus). However, with new case numbers persistently rising, this is an untenable gamble overall. But, if it's a gamble someone feels is worth the risk, then let those who choose to make it play their stakes first. To the governors: Unless you, yourself, are prepared to walk your own child or grandchild into school and spend an entire day in the confines of their classroom with them and their classmates, DO NOT REOPEN SCHOOLS. To the citizens: If your politicians are not willing and dedicated to making this simple commitment, you know all you need to know. Any politician who will sacrifice your child for appearances, but not their own, deserves neither your support nor your vote. The American People refuse to sacrifice their children to satisfy political vanity or compensate for federal incompetence. While physical re-opening should be delayed until safe protocols are firmly established, we do promote distance and virtual learning. We strongly support any state-wide measures taken to prepare for and implement a distance/virtual learning semester. We also support continued meal services provided for students of low-income families. Thank you to every school that considers the needs of ALL their students.