American Federation of Teachers
aft plan

Teachers union offers plan to reopen schools "safely and responsibly"

April 30, 2020
The American Federation of Teachers says its 20-page proposal is based on science and educator expertise—"not on politics or wishful thinking."

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has released what it calls a science-based plan to reopen the nation's schools "safely and responsibly."

The teachers union says its 20-page “Plan to Safely Reopen America’s Schools and Communities” is the result of a  collaboration of public health professionals, union leaders and frontline workers

The plan features five core pillars that are based on science and educator and healthcare expertise—"not on politics or wishful thinking," the AFT says.

For schools to gradually reopen, the union says, they must:

1. Maintain physical distancing until the number of new cases declines for at least 14 consecutive days. Reducing the number of new cases is a prerequisite for transitioning to reopening plans on a community-by-community basis.

2. Put in place the infrastructure and resources to test, trace and isolate new cases. Transitioning from community-focused physical distancing and stay-in-place orders to case-specific interventions requires ramping up the capacity to test, trace and isolate each new case.

3.​ Deploy the public health tools that prevent the virus’ spread and align them with education strategies that meet the needs of students.

4. ​Involve workers, unions, parents and communities in all planning. Each workplace and community faces unique challenges related to Covid-19. To ensure that reopening plans address those challenges, broad worker and community involvement is necessary. They must be engaged, educated and empowered.

5.​ Invest in recovery: Do not abandon America’s communities or forfeit America’s future. These interventions will require more—not less—investment in public health and in our schools, universities, hospitals, and local and state governments. Strengthening communities should be a priority in the recovery.

[MORE: View the entire plan.]

The AFT says its plan "marries the instructional and social-emotional needs of students and the logistics of programming in schools with the imperative to adopt public health tools that prevent viral transmission."

"America is staring down a singular challenge that will require all of us to come together and negotiate a safe path forward," says AFT President Randi Weingarten.

“Our blueprint serves as a stark contrast to the conflicting guidance, bluster and lies of the Trump administration. The input of educators and healthcare workers, as well as parents, is crucial in making any reopening plan work."

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