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PFT Releases Reopening Recommendations

July 14, 2020

Photo: Empty classroom

PHILADELPHIA— This morning, the PFT released its recommendations regarding reopening school buildings. These recommendations are built on months of member feedback, and are developed in conjunction with insight and expertise from scientists and infectious disease experts.

Download the full report here.

Download the report appendices here.

Planning for reopening must be based on a fundamental truth: lives are at stake. Our members want to return to in-person learning to do the job they love face-to-face, if it is safe to do so, and if it remains safe. Simply stating that CDC guidance is ‘too expensive’ is an abject failure of leadership. Further, recent national surges in COVID cases and plateauing local cases, combined with new evidence of childhood infection and airborne spread, certainly call the feasibility of in-person learning into question.

Our report outlines nine critical criteria that must be met in order to consider reopening schools safely:

  • Virus tracking
  • Alternatives to in-person instruction
  • Testing
  • Contact tracing
  • Facilities evaluation and remediation
  • Decluttering, cleaning, and sanitizing
  • Stakeholder feedback
  • Fidelity of implementation
  • Resources

The report then delves into critical recommendations on seven related topics:

  • Educational framework
  • Physical distancing program
  • Hand-washing program
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Decluttering, deep cleaning, & disinfecting
  • Medical screening/testing, contact tracing, isolation, & quarantine
  • High-risk staff and students
On our second reopening survey, PFT President Jerry Jordan said the following:

“It is incumbent upon all of us to navigate the discussions and decision making regarding reopening school buildings with the utmost care. The recommendations outlined in this report are fundamental to the safety and wellbeing of the children and staff who learn and work in schools each day. In addition to incorporating the feedback from more than 17,000 member surveys into our recommendations, we have also consulted with scientists and infectious disease specialists in developing these guidelines.

“While we are navigating this profoundly challenging situation at a local and state level, the threats and rhetoric from the highest office in the country have served to further exacerbate the very real fear and trepidation that so many of us have regarding reopening school buildings. The current occupant of the White House and his morally bankrupt secretary of education have, yet again, displayed their callous disregard for the health, safety, and very humanity of those they are purported to represent. The stakes are too high if we don’t get this right. Educators, parents, community members, and students want school buildings to reopen. But they also want to be safe from this deadly virus.

“Our union remains deeply committed to fighting for the education system that our students need to thrive. As we move forward, all of us must collectively act with urgency and with an unwavering and unapologetic commitment to the young people and educators we are fortunate enough to serve every day.”

Download Our Recommendations: Full report

Download the Appendices: Appendices A-D

Previous Survey Results (June 29): Full report
Previous Survey Results (May 26): Executive summary

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