NYSUT: ‘Decisions on how to bring students back to the classroom must be driven by science’

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(AP file photo)

ALBANY, N.Y. (WWTI) — New York’s largest teachers union is urging for a detailed review of the science behind the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention school social distancing guidelines.

The latest CDC guidance issued on March 19 stated that students in classrooms could now sit three feet apart with masks on.

New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta issued a statement regarding these guidelines.

Pallotta stated the following:

“Any educator will tell you the best way for students to learn is to be in person in the classroom. In a number of schools around New York, that has been done safely and successfully since September. For places that have older buildings, spacing limitations or other circumstances that make COVID-19 mitigation strategies challenging, decisions on how to bring students back to the classroom must be driven by science, not politics.  

“Abrupt changes can undermine public trust and clarity, and we would like to review in greater detail the science behind the CDC’s latest social distancing guidance. Yet it is clear social distancing is only one element of a nuanced and multifaced approach to COVID-19 mitigation in schools. Universal mask wearing, cleaning, proper ventilation, contact tracing, COVID-19 testing and getting the vaccine to everyone who wants one are all still important safety measures for schools. If anything, these other factors — especially the need for robust COVID-19 testing in schools — become more important as social distancing guidance changes. 

“When it comes to changing local reopening plans, districts must continue to work with educators and parents to maintain confidence in the safety of their buildings. Those decisions must be based on the circumstances within each school and must carefully consider all aspects of a responsible COVID-19 mitigation strategy. As public health officials have rightly cautioned, in the face of new variants and a race to make vaccinations widely available, this is not the time to let down our guard.” 

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