LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Little Rock Education Association, a union within the Little Rock School District, released a statement Monday stating that they support "safe schools or no school" for teachers, staff, and students next month.
In the statement, the LREA said they "refuse to be complicit with the Governor and Education Secretary in putting our students and ourselves in danger of the harmful effects to our health and/or possible death from the global COVID-19 pandemic."
LREA stated that there is "mounting evidence" that the state is a hot spot of the spread of the virus, along with several other reasons it believes schools should not open to in-person classes immediately, including the following:
- higher incidences of asthma, sickle cell diseases, immune-compromising illnesses among students
- student populations are at a high risk of not having access to immediate medical care due to poverty, immigration status, and other restrictive issues
- educators at high risk of contracting the virus because of age and/or health issues
"We, the educators, must ensure that our students and our educators are not put into harmful situations which may compromise their health and well-being," the statement said.
"It is our duty to protect our students, our educators, our communities, and our public schools and we commit to that responsibility."
LREA also said that although the governor has said that the decision to open schools to in-person classes was locally made, "evidence supports the fact that directives are coming from the state leadership and restrictions on decision-making are being placed on local Superintendents."
The secretary of LRSD is appointed by LRSD Superintendent Michael Poore, who was appointed by the state education department.
The LREA then laid out a suggestion of phases "for a safe return to instruction."
Phase 1: Full Remote Learning
- Virtual professional development for all educators
- Safety protocols for a return for in-person instruction
- requirements for delivery of online instruction for the first two weeks of the school calendar
- Students issued remote learning equipment
Phase 2: Hybrid Learning (implemented once the total number of COVID-19 cases in Pulaski County have been in a decline for 14 consecutive days)
- Modified schedule for students with social distancing protocols
- PPE in place in every setting in which students and educators will be located
- Requirements for disinfection in place
Phase 3: In-person Instruction (implemented only when the total number of cases has dropped below 50 per day statewide)
- All students returning to campuses
- Social distancing protocols and PPE still required
- Virtual option still be offered for students with compromised immune systems and/or at the parent's request
You can read the full press release below: