SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Based on an appeal of impacted teachers, the California Teachers Health and Safety Alliance (CTHSA) has filed an objection with the Monterey County Health Department (MCHD) objecting to the application filed by Santa Catalina School (SCS) to reopen in person classroom instruction.
The objection makes three central claims: (1) That Santa Catalina School lacked the required consensus of teachers who would need to resume in person classroom instruction when they filed the application; (2) that Santa Catalina School misrepresented the feedback of the teachers by (a) counting nonresponses and teacher responses expressing serious health and safety concerns as ‘yes’ responses indicating teachers wanted to resume in classroom instruction and (b) diluting the overall feedback of the key teachers impacted by the proposed reopening by including ‘votes’ by teachers and those not participating in resumed in-class instruction; and (3) that Santa Catalina School did not provide a comprehensive reopen safety plan for the teachers to review prior to submitting the application for reopening via a waiver.
Alliance member and teacher, Craig Tanaka, released the following statement: “School teachers especially those who are unrepresented by unions or other labor groups run the risk of being steamrolled into working in unsafe and unhealthy work environments. They fear retaliation and losing their jobs for getting out of line with school administration objectives which are often financial based. The COVID-19 pandemic is proving to most risky for teachers on the front lines conducting in person classroom instruction. School teachers whether public or private should be protected under California law to be able to advocate for their health and safety without fear of retaliation.”
“An educational institution interested in reopening during a pandemic that is invasive in the community, like in Monterey County, must be prepared to invest significant time in conferring with teachers in a manner that allows teachers to express their feedback without fear of losing their jobs or being treated differently.” A school charging forward to reopen during a pandemic in a community that has invasive infection without a clear safety plan, COVID-19 testing, and the proper PPE is like sending firefighters to a burning building without necessary training or protective gear.”
When the waiver application was filed with MCHD, Santa Catalina School lacked the required consensus of teachers who would need to resume in person classroom instruction when they filed the application for a waiver. The teachers are not represented by a union and sought a confidential platform with which to provide feedback to the school for fear that crossing the administration would compromise their jobs. SCS did not provide a confidential response, but asked each teacher to respond directly to the administration. The school only gave teachers a weekend to respond. Many teachers responded with serious concerns about reopening, but if the teacher did not come right out and say ‘no’ due to going head to head with the administration, the school counted the response as a ‘yes’. The school claimed they did not receive responses from some of the teachers and those teachers have indicated that they did respond as a ‘no’ but were not counted. The request for a positive response was sent to dozens of teachers and individuals seeking a response but only a few of those teachers polled were actually being asked to resume in person instruction and put their health and safety on the line.
Santa Catalina School did not provide a comprehensive reopening plan for the teachers to review prior to submitting the application for reopening via a waiver. No assurances are in place for whom, how often, or when students, teachers, administrators and staff will be tested. Recent national events have heightened the fears that even daily testing will not be enough to keep everyone safe. Yet, pressure has been put on the teachers to teach their classes on the school campus, despite concerns teachers have relating to the administrators themselves on campus minimizing the seriousness of COVID-19 and not temperature checking or wearing masks properly.
California Teachers Health And Safety Alliance
388 Market Street, Suite 1300
San Francisco, CA 94111
SOURCE California Teachers Health and Safety Alliance