AFT Resolution

FREE COVID-19 TESTING AND PPE SHOULD BE AVAILABLE FOR ALL SCHOOL EMPLOYEES AND STUDENTS BEFORE REOPENING THE SCHOOLS

WHEREAS, universal testing for COVID-19 is fundamental to learning the real number of people infected by the disease, and therefore how to escalate the struggle to defeat it. Most importantly, universally available testing ensures that those who are infected, especially those who are asymptomatic, can be identified, isolate, and have their contacts traced and tested. Every major public health organization, beginning with the World Health Organization emphasizes the vital importance of mass testing. The American Federation of Teachers also released a “Plan to Safely Reopen Schools,” which includes the need for increased COVID-19 testing; and

WHEREAS, despite acknowledging the need to massively increase COVID-19 testing by politicians at every level, test availability remains pitifully low. California is ranked among the bottom half of the country in per capita testing for COVID-19 (California ranks 26th), according to data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project and the most recent U.S. Census Bureau numbers (Dylan Scott for Vox, May 11, 2020). In countless cities and states, getting tested for COVID-19 remains a major challenge, even for frontline workers; and

WHEREAS, COVID-19 has a particularly long incubation period before signs and symptoms of the illness manifest (ranging from five-24 days). Without the availability of universal testing for people who are asymptomatic, countless people can inadvertently spread the illness to others. Added to the already serious and tragically fatal effects of COVID-19 that have been documented, scientists and physicians acknowledge that there is still a great deal they do not know about the virus, adding to the danger of the pandemic; and

WHEREAS, schools are obvious places where massive community spread of illness takes place. Premature reopening of schools will lead to another wave of the pandemic. This is an unacceptable risk to the lives and safety of our members, students and families; and

WHEREAS, as educators in our community's public schools, when we fight for the health and safety of our members, we are also fighting for the health and safety of our students and their families. We have shown time and again the power that we have when we unite and fight. We have that power right now to fight for the necessary health policies to be implemented from our local, state and national governments:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will call for freely available COVID-19 testing for all school employees and students, and for school districts to provide universal access to proper personal protective equipment (PPE). We believe these measures must be in place before schools should reopen; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will call on governors to make free COVID-19 testing universally available to all school employees and students before giving the green light to open each state's public schools.

(2021)

Please note that a newer resolution, or portion of a resolution, may have superseded an earlier resolution on the same subject. As a result, with the exception of resolutions adopted at our most recent AFT convention, resolutions do not necessarily reflect current AFT policies.