San Diego Unified Teachers Concerned About Current School Reopening Plans
The new school year is scheduled to start in less than two months, yet San Diego Unified School District teachers don’t feel ready to reopen campuses with COVID-19 cases surging.
While the state’s second largest school district says it has a detailed plan for its scheduled reopening on August 31st, the teachers union claims the plan in its current form lacks some basic protections against the coronavirus.
“There were no plans for the six-feet distancing, so that was very concerning since throughout the whole COVID crisis, that has been one of the primary advisories from public health officials,” said Kisha Borden, president of San Diego Education Association.
Borden said the teachers union issued a counterproposal for reopening that included smaller class sizes, more ventilation and robust testing.
“They’re trying to meet those needs, but I think they realize that reducing class size in order to provide for social distancing is going to require hiring a lot more adults in the schools,” Borden said. “At this point I don’t think they have the resources to do that.”
In response to the union’s proposal, San Diego Unified’s administration teamed up this week with public health experts at UC San Diego to design a plan for safe reopening.
In a written statement, SD Unified spokeswoman Maureen Magee said the district will let the scientists decide when it is safe to reopen, but there are currently no plans to delay the start of school.
“Our students need to be back in school. They have a right to their education. We don’t disagree with educators on the need for safety,” Magee said. “On the contrary, we agree with our teachers that these decisions should be made by scientists - not politicians. That is the point we made with SDEA this week, and they agreed.”
Magee said the district is also working with public officials to increase testing capacity for its students and staff.
Despite these assurances, Borden says concerns among teachers are rising along with the daily case counts.
“If we are going to have in-person school, we need everyone’s help in lowering the numbers of infections,” she said. “If we want schools to be back in session, we have to see a decline.”