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Reopening School Buildings

This week, the American Federation of Teachers released a report on Reopening School Buildings. The report was jointly developed by Educational Issues and Health Issues, and builds on the initial guidance AFT released in April.

It details conditions needed to open schools, the safety and health guidelines schools need to follow, and the instructional considerations that need to be made. It also includes excerpts from some state and district plans that include one or more of the components we have identified as essential, as well as links to additional research, reports and resources (be sure to look at the endnotes!).

As outlined in a new AFT resolution, and detailed in the report, school buildings cannot open for in-person instruction until the below conditions are met:

  • Community transmission of COVID-19 is under control in the region
  • There is a public health infrastructure to support effective disease surveillance, tracing and isolation in schools
  • Staff who are at high risk have access to special accommodations.
  • The district and school have funded safeguards and implemented protocols, including the below essential components:
    • 6-foot physical distancing
    • face coverings
    • access to hand-washing facilities
    • resources and staffing to clean and sanitize facilities
    • necessary updates to ventilation and building systems.
  • AFT members and leaders, families and community partners are included in the reopening planning process.

Additionally, the report lays out the key instruction-related components that must be in place at the start of the school year to support teaching and learning:

  • Building relationships and supporting student well-being
  • Remote learning readiness
  • Collaboration and professional development
  • Diagnostic assessments