In an open letter to the community, educators from Humboldt and Del Norte counties are calling for a united approach as decisions are made about how to approach the 2020-2021 school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Open Letter from Humboldt and Del Norte Educators
The letter — sent out by the Eureka office of the California Teachers Association and signed by representatives of local teachers’ unions —calls for any decisions to be based on medical science and best educational practices, noting that not all students or staff would be able to return to campus due to either themselves or someone in their household having conditions that put them more at risk.
“Providing a one-size-fits-all plan will not ensure equitable access but will only serve to leave some students further behind,” the letter states. “We call for plans to have multiple options that will allow academic and social-emotional growth for all students.”
Speaking to the difficulties and challenges experience by teachers, families and students during these months of shelter in place, the letter also addresses how this time has highlighted disparities in learning “based on race, class, gender, socio-economic status, and rural versus urban divide.”
“The academic (including learning abilities and modalities), social-emotional, physical, medical, and technological needs of our students must be addressed with equity at the center,” it states. “Educators know we must work diligently to lift up all students. Equity and social justice plans need to be incorporated into everything we do.”
The letter calls for a number of health and safety protocols to be put in place — including an increase in school nurses and ensuring access to basics like hand-washing stations — if schools were to open, as well as collaborative plans for addressing distance learning or hybrid approaches, and calls for an increase in local, state and federal funding to support schools and the public services that “that lift up our communities.”
“Educators’ voices along with the needs of students, parents, and administrators must drive all academic plans for our students in the 2020-2021 school year,” the letter states.