HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- Several unions that represent educators are calling for the state to implement specific policies regarding the handling of coronavirus outbreaks in schools.
Since the start of school, numerous districts have reported positive COVID-19 cases.
However, there have been a variety of ways districts are handling the situations, with some closing buildings for a few days, others isolate cohorts of students.
In a press release, the Connecticut Education Association and union members said they are insisting that the state “implement guidelines that follow Centers for Disease Control and state health department guidelines to assure student and staff safety.”
“While we understand each school district is unique, the state must provide specific protocols that districts must follow when someone tests positive for the virus, including providing detailed information to parents and teachers,” said Connecticut Education Association President Jeff Leake. “The absence of consistent guidelines and adherence to protocols is evident in many districts, as is a lack of quality PPE and CDC-approved disinfecting and cleaning supplies. Without state mandates, transparency, and open communication, districts are jeopardizing the health and safety of entire school communities.”
The Department of Education issued guidelines that are based on county population per 100,000. If there are less than 10 COVID-19 cases, children can learn in school. If there are between 10 and 25 cases, there has to be hybrid learning, and more than 25 would lead to all remote learning.
The coalition reinforced recommendations that it released last month that include 13 protocols that they believe would protect student and staff health.
Read those recommendations by clicking here.
“Today, our coalition leaders renew the call for the implementation of these common-sense standards to ensure the safety of school communities and all of Connecticut’s residents,” a press release said.
“Across the state, we’re seeing red flags. We can’t ignore the signs,” said Stacie Harris-Byrdsong, President of AFSCME Local 3194, representing paraeducators, lead educators, childcare workers, and oral interpreters at Capitol Region Education Council schools. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have heard people say we are in this together. That’s true and it’s why our unions are calling for consistent statewide procedures and transparency. We need to ensure parents, the public, and entire school communities know the procedures and what’s being done when a COVID-19 case is confirmed,” added Harris-Byrdsong, who is also the secretary of Council 4, representing thousands of non-teaching board of education employees in districts across the state.
Some educators said they are worried, and that there hasn't been enough communication.
“I think this needs some urgency to it. I think communication needs to be commented very well, and people should know what’s going on in the building," said Shelly Davis, who is a para-educator in Hartford. “I think tracing and isolation there needs to be a better job with that.”
On Wednesday, Gov Ned Lamont weighed in, saying there were "very few infections" being reported out of the hundreds of thousands of people in Connecticut schools.
"Right now, the principals are using the best discretion I think to do it safely," he said.