AFT-West Virginia would like to clarify the misleading and out of context remark made by Governor Justice in his press conference today about school reopening. We have been working with officials at the WVDE on a consistent basis throughout this pandemic. We have shared our re-entry guidance documents and safety checklists with the WVDE to help ensure we have input into the re-entry process. The union believes the WVDE has incorporated some of those metrics into their guidance plans, but we also know that not all our suggestions have been implemented into the overall reopening plan. The statement made today by the Governor that “AFT says that it is safe to go back to in-person instruction when the overall positive rate of those tested is below 5%” negligently leaves out all the additional factors and conditions that our guidance states must be in place as well. (Please refer to the language below that explains the full context of our suggested metrics which should be met before in-person instruction begins.)
This out of context and misleading statement by the Governor is but another clear example of his failed leadership and unwillingness to focus on making decisions that ensure a safe return to school instead of politically charged charades. The school community deserves clear answers with certainty and not a game of “pass the buck” when it comes to who is in fact the authority when making decisions about school re-entry. The Governor has had almost six months to deliver a plan for re-entry and all he has accomplished is delivering continued anxiety and uncertainty.
We will continue to advocate for all WV students, teachers, and school service personnel to safely return to in-person instruction.
EXCERPT AND LINK TO FULL AFT REENTRY GUIDANCE INFORMATION:
Based on what is currently known about the coronavirus and its spread, these two conditions must be met in order to reopen safely with in-person instruction:
1. Containment of the virus, which could be demonstrated by a combination of indicators, including demonstrated decline in new cases and hospitalizations for at least 14 days; adequate ICU bed capacity to respond to a surge; a positive test rate of less than 5 percent; a low rate of transmission rate; and testing, contact tracing and isolation capacity in a given public health jurisdiction.
2. A public health infrastructure that would provide support to school districts to implement effective disease surveillance, testing, tracing and isolation protocols for those infected and quarantined, to help prevent spread within a school if there is a positive case.
For the full document please visit: https://www.aft.org/sites/default/files/reopening-school-buildings.pdf