Is it racist to reopen schools? No, of course not. The very idea is ridiculous. But that’s what the United Teachers of Los Angeles union would have you believe. When Governor Gavin Newsom announced he planned to reopen schools to in-person education, it was a sign that life is finally getting back to normal with the COVID-19 pandemic. But teachers? Well, they don’t want to go back to work — and are even calling the idea of allowing students to come back to the classroom racist.
Newsom is strongly pushing for schools to reopen. While it isn’t mandated, school districts that open classrooms to students will receive part of $2 billion in cash incentives intended to encourage educators to get back to doing what they are trained to do.
According to Politico, the program “includes districts in counties that are still in the state’s purple tier, with infection rates higher than what teachers unions have said are too unsafe for reopening”:
In a press conference Monday, the head of UTLA claimed that the plan not only put teachers in danger of contracting COVID-19 but also perpetuated “structural racism.”
“We are being unfairly targeted by people who are not experiencing this disease in the same ways as students and families are in our communities. If this was a rich person’s disease, we would’ve seen a very different response. We would not have the high rates of infections and deaths,” UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz said, per Politico. “Now educators are asked instead to sacrifice ourselves, the safety of our students and the safety of our schools.”
Teachers are refusing to return until every staff member is vaccinated. “The fact is that the plan does not supersede our legal right to bargain working conditions with LAUSD and our continued determination to do so,” Myart-Cruz says, accusing Newsom of not “following the science” on COVID. But the science says that children should be allowed to return to classrooms so we don’t sacrifice their futures to the boogeyman. Nevertheless, she says Newsom is following “white, wealthy parents” who are “driving the push behind a rushed return.”
The CDC disputes Myart-Cruz and the union’s claim that full vaccination is needed. The director of the organization says that complete teacher vaccination absolutels is not needed to reopen classrooms. But educators have had all this time off. It’s easy to get used to it. And they don’t want to give it up just yet.