CFT responds to Assembly Bill 86 passage, new COVID-19 reopening criteria
California Federation of Teachers
For Immediate Release
Contact: Matthew Hardy, 510-703-5291
SACRAMENTO, CA — California Federation of Teachers (CFT) President Jeff Freitas issued the following statement in response to the Legislature voting to pass AB 86:
“CFT’s 120,000 educators and school staff have been providing baseline safety requirements to outline a path to safely return students to in-person instruction in a way that upholds California’s value on equity and safety for students and educators since May 2020.
“We are deeply concerned to see the goalposts already moving on this reopening plan just days after its unveiling. By redefining the tiers used to safely reopen schools after broad agreement on AB 86 was reached, the Administration pushes more districts into returning to in-person instruction at levels that have been considered dangerous for a year. This change risks the unintended consequence of delaying return to classrooms and further eroding Californians’ trust, especially among communities of color who have expressed higher levels of skepticism about the safety in returning to schools.
“Local counties and school districts have been working for months in some cases on safe reopening plans. These new standards for reopening will require many at the local level to start from scratch, causing a significant delay in schools’ ability to return to in person instruction. We laud the commitment to equity by focusing the distribution of vaccinations to low income communities, but changing the threshold of the purple tier based on 2 million vaccinated Californians out of 40 million does little to prevent the spread of the virus among our students and unvaccinated households, and was not contemplated when AB 86 was negotiated.
“Dedicating 10% of vaccines to educators and school employees is a necessary step in safely returning to in-person instruction, but we are concerned to see uneven rollouts and teachers being turned away, sometimes after traveling long distances to reach vaccine sites.
“We are optimistic that we are close to being able to safely return to in person instruction in California if real safety measures are put in place, and we look forward to working with legislative leaders to ensure a fully thought out safety plan that doesn’t leave low-income families and students of color behind.”
The California Federation of Teachers 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. More information at www.cft.org.