(Washington D.C., Wednesday, May 6, 2020) – The American Federation of Teachers has released a detailed road map that, in the absence of a COVID-19 vaccine, charts a path to safely and responsibly reopen school buildings and other institutions crucial to the well-being and economic vitality of our communities.
The 20-page, science-based “Plan to Safely Reopen America’s Schools and Communities” sprung from an intense collaboration of public health professionals, union leaders and frontline workers to prepare for what happens next in the period between flattening the curve and truly eradicating the virus.
It features five core pillars that inform our decision to reopen the country based on the science as well as educator and healthcare expertise—not on politics or wishful thinking.
To gradually reopen, the following needs to be done:
- Maintain physical distancing until the number of new cases declines for at least 14 consecutive days;
- Put in place the infrastructure and resources to test, trace and isolate new cases;
- Deploy the public health tools that prevent the virus’ spread and align them with education strategies that meet the needs of students;
- Involve workers, unions, parents and communities in all planning. Each workplace and community faces unique challenges related to COVID-19; and
- Invest in recovery, do not abandon America’s communities or forfeit America’s future.
The American Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for students, their families and communities. The AFT represents 1.7 million members, including pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; and nurses and other healthcare professionals.