It is no secret that our nation’s public schools have historically been underfunded and were not adequately prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, that lack of
investment only exacerbated the inequality facing our most vulnerable students. In order to reopen America’s public schools safely and equitably, we must address the conditions both inside schools and outside, in our communities. This will require rethinking how we ensure the health and safety of our students, educators, school staff, parents and broader community. It will also require greater investment in our school communities than before the COVID-19 pandemic—not less.
This guide is intended to be used along with the AFT’s “A Plan to Safely Reopen America’s Schools and Communities.” Our plan calls for:
- Maintaining physical distancing until the number of new cases declines for at least 14 consecutive days.
- Putting in place the infrastructure and resources to test, trace and isolate new cases.
- Deploying the public health tools that prevent the virus’ spread, and aligning them with education strategies that meet the needs of students.
- Involving workers, unions, parents and communities in all planning.
- Investing in recovery: Do not abandon America’s communities or forfeit America’s future.
The power of union and community coming together is more important than ever. We must use this unique moment in history and the reopening of America’s schools to ensure our communities receive the education ALL students deserve. Below are some tools and resources to help guide your work in this process.