The Governor’s new document on guidance for school reopening does not go far enough to assure us that schools will be safe for students and staff to return to this fall.
We believe the Governor’s recommendation falls short in keeping kids and staff safe. These guidelines are designed to be practical and flexible – they are not designed to promote uniform student safety.
“Three to six feet of social distancing is recommended by the guidelines,” said Megan Tuttle, NEA-NH President. “But the Governor goes on to say that if it’s not practical, he’ll leave it up to each school to deal with. The result is that kids in some school districts get proper distancing, but others are put at risk. That is not acceptable.”
There are far too many ‘shoulds’ in this document to keep our students and staff safe, leaving more questions unanswered than answered.
“In the middle of a pandemic, the Governor has put the priority on flexibility leaving thousands of students and staff to fend for themselves at the local level.”
“New Hampshire is suffering a critical shortage of substitutes now – this plan ensures an unworkable statewide school environment by October.”
To build confidence that our schools are safe for the return of in-person instruction, all districts will need to acquire and distribute personal protective equipment and enact regular deep-cleaning procedures that meet the original CDC standards.
School buildings will need to have their HVAC systems cleaned and, in many cases upgraded. Effective procedures to regularly maintain them will also need to be put in place.
No student or educator should be allowed back into any school building if the school district has not designed or implemented classroom, bus, and hallway layouts that accommodate six feet of distancing. Hand washing and sanitizing stations must also be made available throughout the school.
“We know that thousands of our members fall into the high-risk category,” said Tuttle. “They literally fear their life will be at risk if they are forced to return now. This new guidance does little to address their legitimate fear.”