The dramatic rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in Connecticut has prompted a growing number of public school superintendents to prioritize the safety of students, teachers, and staff by moving to all-distance learning through mid-January. We thank these superintendents for putting safety first, following the advice of health experts, and taking the wisest course of action to prevent the further spread of the virus.
Many students and teachers, however, are expected to return to the classroom tomorrow—before the surge from the holiday break is over and the situation can be re-evaluated—and just as the state marks one of the grimmest milestones in this pandemic: more than 6,000 lives lost. With at least 162 Connecticut towns identified as coronavirus red zones, it’s time for all public school superintendents to follow the lead of their colleagues who have paused in-person learning until mid-January.
A new CEA/AFT Connecticut survey of more than 4,000 educators clearly shows that in the midst of a pandemic, schools are not the safest place for children or educators. New data from the American Academy of Pediatrics show nearly 179,000 COVID-19 cases in children just last week, bringing the total reported cases in children to more than 2 million. Minimizing community exposure, not multiplying it, will help lead the way out of this pandemic. As leaders in their communities, school superintendents owe this safety step to their students, communities, and hard-working teachers and staff.
To further safeguard our education communities amid the growing number of COVID-19 cases, CEA is also urging the state to mandate COVID-19 testing, including random testing of asymptomatic individuals. While no one is more eager to return to the classroom than Connecticut’s dedicated teachers, detecting and stopping the spread of COVID-19 must be the top priority. Until in-person learning can resume safely, our educators are committed to ensuring quality distance teaching to keep students engaged and learning. Further spread of the virus and loss of life can and must be prevented.
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