Does Smart Restart APS want to keep schools closed?
Schools have been open — just operating remotely for most. Smart Restart APS is a coalition of parents and teachers that was created not to keep school buildings closed, but to advocate ways to reopen our school buildings as safely as possible.
Members of our group have been suggesting strategies and researching these issues since April 2020. We have worked to elevate achievable, evidence-based solutions to help the administration of APS.
Some of us have students in the hybrid option, and some of us have kids in the virtual learning option. (Some of us may choose to be virtual now, while community spread is high, but hope to return our students to school buildings safely in the fall.)
The teachers in our group have advocated for mitigation measures to be implemented carefully and transparently, and to allow staff to get vaccinated — but many of our teachers were ready to return to work with “VITAL” safety measures in place. Some teachers in our coalition do have high risk medical conditions, as outlined by the CDC, and we have supported these staff members to be allowed to work remotely until their doctors feel it is safer for them to return to buildings.
We want to advocate for healthier schools in our community into the future. We have advocated for safety for ALL students, and for APS to address issues so that ALL schools can have things like outdoor lunch and air cleaners, not just wealthier schools. Safety should be consistent.
Are teachers refusing to return to school buildings until all students are vaccinated or there have been 14 days with no cases?
The majority of teachers have simply wanted APS to implement “VITAL” safety measures, and then nearly 7 out of 10 would be comfortable returning. The “14 days” ask was an old request, which was realized to be unrealistic as the pandemic raged out of control in the state, and it is no longer something that teacher groups are requesting.
VITAL safety measures include making sure classrooms have a minimum amount of clean air; teachers have been able to be vaccinated; cases (regardless of where transmission occurred) are reported clearly by school; testing is put into place to catch the 59% of cases that will be asymptomatic; those with CDC underlying conditions are offered remote options for work; and lunch (and breakfast) is moved outdoors to avoid mixing and unmasking indoors.
Teachers are now in the process of returning to work with high anxiety because APS has given few specifics on most plans, and virtually no VITAL measures can be confirmed to have been implemented well, if at all. Teachers aren’t just concerned for themselves — they are also concerned for the health and wellbeing of students, and their students’ families.
Some teachers have resigned or retired, because they have serious health conditions that prevented them from returning to a school building safely, and APS refused to accommodate their request for remote work, despite both CDC and Virginia directives to do so.
Did Dr. Fauci suggest that schools should open because “If you look at the data, the spread among children and from children is not really very big at all, not like one would have suspected”?
Verdict: FALSE, Quote taken out of context
The quote is from ABC This Week on Nov. 29, 2020, and if you watch the interview (which you can see here), it is clear that the quote has been taken out of context.
Dr. Fauci does say that we should get students back in schools as soon as possible. However, he recommends doing so only after communities “mitigate the things that [we] know are causing spread in a very, very profound way,” by taking actions such as closing bars, restaurants with capacity seating indoors without masks, and similar venues.
Regardless of what establishments are or aren’t open, however, Fauci’s bottom line is clear: “The best way to ensure the safety of the children at school is to get the community level of the spread low.”