(Washington D.C., Monday, March 23, 2020) – As COVID-19 spreads, the American Federation of Teachers believes a national school shutdown is inevitable and is calling on all K-12 schools to plan for it. Schools must ensure the security of vulnerable children – including those of frontline essential service workers, students who require lifesaving equipment and personnel support in and out of the classroom, and other children whose needs extend beyond the school day.
Adequate supports must be in place – including an emergency support plan for all first responders and healthcare workers to support child care and other needs, access to appropriate testing and care, food programs, and learning packets and specific guidance for online learning.
Some thirty-three states have already closed schools, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended against gatherings of more than 50 people, and the president has said to avoid groups of over 10 people.
Nurses and other frontline providers must also be supported to help communities. Nurses say they do not have the appropriate equipment, including adequate masks, personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and respiratory gear for nurses, techs and other service staff in hospitals.
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.