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Letter to Besty DeVos, Secretary of Education - Harder, Taylor Ask Ed Dept for Clearer Guidance on School Reopening


Date: June 23, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

Thank you for your attention to this critical matter. With states across the country announcing efforts to resume on-campus instruction this Fall it is imperative that our K-12 leaders are given guidance for reopening our school campuses. We write to you today to urge you and your department to issue guidance and training for our educators to safely reopen schools this Fall.

It remains unclear as to what the reopening of our nation's campuses will look like. That uncertainty coupled with budget cuts in the wake the COVID-19 health crisis has presented our schools with unprecedented challenges for resuming on-campus instruction. Additionally, health and safety concerns are still present for our teachers and parents. 1 in 5 teachers say they are unlikely to go back to school if their classrooms reopen in the fall, and a parallel poll found that 6 in 10 K-12 parents are likely to pursue at home learning options rather than in-person school.

We have heard from teachers and administrators throughout our districts who are concerned about the safety of their students and their families and are looking to your department to provide training and direction on how to safely and responsibly reopen campuses this Fall. Some of those challenges that are creating concerns for our teachers and parents include managing multi-staggered class start times and extra safety precautions regarding food preparation, transportation, and social distancing during instruction when these campuses are reopened. It is because of these challenges that we urge your department to provide more guidance on the resources, training, and best practices to support schools in their re-opening efforts. Specifically, campus leaders are asking for guidance on the following:

* Acquiring soap and sanitizer in classrooms and personal protective equipment (PPE)
* Preforming daily health checks and on-campus testing
* Acquiring desk dividers for students
* Acquiring technology for potential part time remote instruction and best practices for
remote learning
* How to properly socially distance during on campus instruction and how to safely
transport students to and from campus.

These challenges underscore your department's vitally important role in issuing guidance to campus leaders across the country who will be working tirelessly this Summer to ensure our students' safety when they return to class this Fall.

Students, parents, teachers, and administrators are depending on us as leaders to provide direction on the safe reopening of campuses this Fall, which is why we are urging your department to issue guidance on how to successfully, and safely reopen. Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to your response.