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AEA Statement on Reopening Schools Safely


Phoenix, AZ – July 10, 2020 – The Arizona Education Association (AEA) represents 20,000 school employees across the state. From the early days of this pandemic we have been listening to our members’ concerns around its impact. Our primary concern has remained the health, safety, and welfare of students, families, and educators, as well as the health and safety of the broader community. 

In June, AEA conducted a survey of Arizona educators where over 7,600 participated. The results show 90% are concerned about health issues related to teaching and learning in schools. Over 80% agree students should stay at home until public health experts determine it is safe to return and with adequate planning and equipment to protect school employees, students, and families from COVID-19.

As districts discuss plans to for the 2020-2021 school year it is essential that we make decisions based in science and safety. Districts will need flexibility and should be including educators in discussions aimed at providing the best possible education for our students as we confront the challenges posed by COVID-19.
Currently, there exists significant community spread of COVID-19 in Arizona. Schools must not become places that increase that spread or endanger the lives of students, staff, or of our surrounding community. 

Educators, parents, and students must be assured that when returning to school they will be safe and that schools at a bare minimum follow all CDC guidelines. Until a campus, a worksite, or a classroom can assure educators, students, and parents that they will be safe, it is too great a risk for anyone to enter a school facility. 

AEA reaffirms the principles put forth in our March 30, 2020 communication to districts. With the spread of COVID-19 accelerating from that time to now, AEA stands by the following statements: 

  1. In-person instruction should be delayed until at least the end of the first nine-weeks of the school calendar and only occur after Arizona reaches Phase II of the Opening America Up Again plan as set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
  2. To maintain supports for students and our community during this pandemic, districts shall receive at least the same level of federal, state, and local funding as they did the previous year. 
  3. Districts will be granted flexibility toward meeting the requirement of 180 days of instruction due to disruptions related to COVID-19. 
  4. The AZM2 will not be administered due to the ongoing disruption created by the COVID-19 pandemic rendering high-stakes, standardized test scores unreliable for the 2020-2021 school year. 
  5. Districts must provide alternative opportunities for employees with underlying health issues to contribute their skills and labor. 
  6. Appropriate safety equipment, supplies, and protocols must be provided to all school staff working at district sites. 
  7. Districts that require employees to report to school sites must provide justification that the work is critical in nature and cannot be accomplished at home. 

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