CFT President Jeff Freitas responds to CDPH update on masking in schools
SACRAMENTO — Earlier today Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health announced updated guidance on masking in schools, lifting mandatory masking and transitioning to strongly recommending masking starting on March 11, 2022.
CFT President Jeff Freitas released the following statement following the announcement:
“We have consistently maintained that COVID school policies must be based on science and not politics, and so we appreciate the science-based approach of Dr. Ghaly and the California Department of Public Health in announcing updated guidance on statewide masking in schools.
“The two week time period for transitioning to the new policy will give local school districts and local public health agencies time to review local conditions and, in consultation with parents and educators, make the decision about when and where masking is appropriate in their schools.
“Any decision on masking at the local level should be made with an equity lens so that the health and safety of our hardest hit communities, and especially our most vulnerable students, are prioritized. Districts must continue to provide high quality masks and ensure a safe environment for all staff and students who want or need to continue to wear them. Schools must also continue to have robust testing and proper ventilation in place before making masks optional.
“COVID vaccinations have proven to work, and will be critical to ensure the long term safety of our schools and communities. We urge the state of California and local school districts to double down on their vaccination campaigns for students and their families. This is especially critical for our low-income communities of color, who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
“We will continue to work with local education agencies to strengthen proven mitigation efforts, including vaccination access, making high quality masks available to staff and students, sufficient testing, and ventilation upgrades.
“Finally, school communities must work to ensure that students and school workers who choose to continue to wear masks are not stigmatized. No student or school worker should be pressured into unmasking. Our responsibility in our public schools is to provide a safe learning and working environment for all students and staff.”
CFT — A Union of Educators and Classified Professionals represents 120,000 teachers, faculty, and school employees in public and private schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education. It is the statewide affiliate of the AFT, AFL-CIO.