July 9, 2020 - CONCORD, NH - No one wants to see our children back in schools more than us. No one. But the same instinct that moves a teacher to go to any length to protect their class, is also telling us that rushing our children back into classrooms, hallways and buses until we know it is safe, is clearly not the best thing to do. So, we stand up and we speak up for our kids.
"We will not be bullied by the President of the United States and his Secretary of Education to open our schools before they are safe," said Megan Tuttle, NEA-New Hampshire President. "No president should threaten the parents of children with higher taxes by de-funding public schools just because they want their children and the people who educate them safe and protected during a pandemic."
Our schools were overcrowded before the pandemic. Our schools lacked adequate HVAC before the pandemic. Our schools did not have enough nurses on staff before the pandemic. Our schools were underfunded and under-resourced before the pandemic. When they reopen these same conditions will still exist.
"The President and the Secretary of Education are now demanding we place our students and staff into these COVID-19 incubators and are threatening to withhold funding if we refuse to do so," said Tuttle. "Let us be very clear - We refuse to do so. Until we know our schools are safe, we will fight every effort to reopen them."
We cannot recommend that our students or members return to in-person classes until all districts receive and distribute personal protective equipment, enact regular deep-cleaning procedures that meet the original CDC standards, upgrade and regularly maintain HVAC systems, design and implement classroom and hallway layouts that accommodate six feet of distancing, and install hand-washing and sanitizing stations.
The President said these standards and conditions are too tough and too expensive and had the CDC guidelines watered-down. In doing so he has devalued the life of every public-school student and staff member in pursuit of his re-election.
The President and Secretary DeVos have drawn a very clear line with their demands to reopen all schools in the fall. You are either with them in their denial of science and medical fact, or with the educators who are speaking up for the kids.
You are either with them in their belief that dollars are always more important than children, or with the educators who are standing up for the kids.
The silence of Governor Sununu and Commissioner Edelblut in the face of this presidential threat is deafening. We are calling on the Governor and Commissioner to get behind the science, medical and educational communities and speak out for the safety of students and educators in New Hampshire. To state clearly and publicly that they will not be bullied by this President to reopen schools before it is safe for our children to return to them. They need to publicly urge Republican senators to pass the HEROS Act so New Hampshire can receive the funds we need to make our schools safe again.
"President Trump and Secretary DeVos have made it very clear that the health and safety of our children means nothing to them. Governor Sununu and Commissioner Edelblut cannot stay silent on such an important issue," Tuttle said.
Until we know our schools are safe, we will fight every effort to reopen them.