California Teachers Association survey finds many parents aren’t confident in schools’ ability to combat coronavirus

Local News

MANTECA, Calif. (KTXL) — It has been two days since the state green-lit a return to in-person learning in Sacramento County based on declining coronavirus transmission rates.

Despite that change locally and in several other pockets around the state, the California Teachers Association says that is not what parents want, according to the results of a new survey.

The survey, conducted by Hart Research, polled almost 1,300 registered voters, 527 of them public school parents, on 15 different topic areas.

Sixty-five percent of people polled by the CTA in September said they weren’t confident in school safety, even with a low risk of infection at that point. Looking ahead, 67% said they weren’t confident about what the status might be in November.

“We still don’t have HVAC units to properly ventilate classrooms,” said Ken Johnson, the president of the Manteca Educators’ Association. “We don’t have appropriate PPE and we don’t have any procedure for contact tracing.”

Johnson said teachers were given $50 gift cards by their district at the beginning of the year to buy their own personal protective equipment. It was not what he and the CTA felt was appropriate.

Four teachers on the same campus contracted COVID-19 right after the district required them to come back to their classrooms.

The Manteca Unified School District disputed what Johnson had to say about their classroom preparations for COVID-19.

Spokeswoman Victoria Brunn said the district has a “robust internal process for contact tracing with dedicated health professionals and we have a rare daily survey tracking for symptoms and reporting through Qualtrics analytics.” 

In addition, we supplied our classrooms with face masks, face shields, refillable water bottles, hand sanitizer and/or hand washing stations, Plexi-glass, disposable gloves, directional signage, and $50 in additional PPE for items beyond those supplied for an extra level of individualized safety, robust teaching stations for remote learning to name just a few.

Victoria Brunn, Manteca Unified School District Spokeswoman

The survey CTA commissioned found 79% of voters and 76% of parents asked said daily deep cleaning and sanitizing of school facilities and buses are the most essential steps for regular in-school instruction to resume.

The union agreed and indicated that is not something districts have the money to do at the proper scale right now.

With a true focus on safety, union leaders said they believe students wouldn’t be on such a roller coaster.

“We can go from Modesto to Oakland to San Bernardino to Manteca, areas that we’ve seen opening happening too quickly and then they have to close,” said CTA President E. Toby Boyd. “We have colleges and universities that have had significant outbreaks and they’ve gone through this yo-yo effect and it doesn’t do anything to help our students.”

When it comes to who parents and voters trust with how to proceed with school in the age of coronavirus, teachers came in second only to top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, according to respondents.

On the trust scale for this issue, President Donald Trump came in second to last and his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, came in last.

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