As valley students approach one year of distance learning, the CDC Director provided an update at the White House COVID-19 response meeting.
“The data from schools suggests there is very little transmission that is happening within the schools, especially when there is masking and distancing occurring,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
But not all California teachers are ready to go back.
In San Francisco, the union says staff won’t return for in-person education until they receive the vaccine.
“Why isn’t our city, state, federal governments providing us the adequate resources to have safe and successful and equitable schools?” asked Kung Feng, Executive Director, Jobs with Justice.
Locally, the Desert Sands and Coachella Valley Teacher’s associations would like to see staff get vaccinated before returning to class as well, and they’re worried about opening schools too soon.
“The only way that I know that I will not contract the virus or be an asymptomatic spreader of the virus is if I do not congregate with people,” said Trina Gonzales-Alesi, President of DSTA, at a Desert Sands Board meeting.
The roll-out of coronavirus vaccines for teachers has been relatively slow, and the unions say staff has been struggling to make appointments.
But Palm Springs and Desert Sands Unified School Districts have heard teacher’s concerns.
They’ve created safety plans and have partnered with Desert Oasis Health Care to provide vaccine clinics for their staff.
“Our goal is in the future to be able to do a larger vaccination with our school districts when we have the supply for that. We’ve been out working with the administrators with the schools looking at sites,” said Lindsey Valenzuela, Associate Vice President of Population Health Integration for Desert Oasis Healthcare.
Neither district has set a firm date for the clinics as they wait on allotments from the county, but Desert Sands says close to 2,000 employees have already registered.
Now, both groups are ready to get the process started,
“And I have to say, from our end, it’s gratifying to be a part of the process of moving the community forward beyond the pandemic,” said Valenzuela.
The Coachella Valley Teacher’s association Presidents Karen Johnson with PSTA, Trina Gonzales-Alesi with DSTA, and Carissa Carrera with CVTA, also provided this statement about reopening schools:
“Educators would like nothing more than to return to school with our students; however, we do not believe it is safe to return to school at this time. The numbers the county is reporting are still over the threshold, and so we remain in the purple tier. The safety of employees, students, and their families are at the forefront of our concerns. We would like to see districts adhere to the regulations put in place by the county, the state, and CalOSHA to ensure safety for all should we return to in-person learning this school year. This means having proper PPE, spacing, scheduling, and other safety protocols in place along with a plan to ensure adherence to the protocols. We do know that educators wishing to receive the vaccine have struggled to secure appointments. We would like to see those who wish to be vaccinated be given the chance to do so before returning to in-person instruction. That would be a step in the right direction.”
Right now the county’s case rate per 100 thousand residents is currently around 45. That number needs to be at 25 to reopen schools locally.