Texas AFT President Zeph Capo commented today on the Texas Education Agency’s release of new guidelines related to opening up campuses for the new school year:
TEA leadership is acting intentionally and recklessly with gross negligence by issuing guidance that does not take into account the fact that much of Texas is experiencing substantial community spread. Under such circumstances, the CDC recommends extended school dismissals. Our students and teachers deserve a state agency that places their safety above all else.
Previously we said, “Hell No!” to Mike Morath and TEA about the necessity of returning students and teachers to campuses. The claim that it would be safe didn’t jive with what school employees and parents know about the dangers of COVID-19. That was before Texas started seeing a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases.
Much of the guidance released by TEA today appears to ignore the reality of the record number of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations across the state. We are actually one of the nation’s worst “hot-spot” states, and yet TEA continues to stress the supposed dire need to get kids clustered together again in often overcrowded school buildings. It is simply not worth the enormous risk of harm to our children and school employees.
TEA also needs to abandon, or at least put into context, its message that returning to campuses at this point will be safe because “relatively few children with COVID-19 are hospitalized or have severe symptoms.” The problem with this stance is that it still puts adults–our school employees, parents, and the overall community at significant risk–while also ignoring the enormity of the numbers of students and adults returning to school. Low percentages still can turn into big numbers in these situations, as was seen recently with the rapid spread resulting in hundreds of new cases reported in Texas daycare centers in late June.