Educators and School Staff Urge Action to Assure "Safe, Healthy Return to the Classroom"

The Board of Education (BOE) Union Coalition, which includes Council 4, is calling on state and district officials to take specific additional steps ahead of students’ return from winter break. Action is needed now as the COVID-19 omicron variant continues transmitting at the highest levels since the start of the pandemic.

"As the latest virus surges across Connecticut, students and the school employees who serve them are entitled to stable and safe learning environments," said Council 4 Executive Director Jody Barr. "This requires immediate, proactive measures. New, more stringent safety standards and protocols are essential to protecting everyone's health as we head out of the holiday break."

"We must all return to the successful safety protocols we relied on earlier in the pandemic to reduce community spread," said Council 4 Secretary Stacie Harris-Byrdsong, who also serves as President of Local 3194 (CREC paraprofessionals). 

"It is also vital that dedicated staff not lose wages due to work-related quarantines or a return to a virtual environment. We cannot afford to lose any of the well-trained and knowledgeable staff that have helped carry our students through the pandemic," she added.

Coalition leaders are urging state officials to:
  1. Adopt new, more aggressive testing protocols to closely monitor students and teachers before they enter our schools. As in other facilities, temperatures should be taken outside and anyone with a fever or exhibiting symptoms should not be allowed into our schools;
  2. Provide cost-free access to COVID-19 testing at all schools, including weekly pool testing;
  3. Provide N95 masks and in-home test kits to all school districts for distribution to students and school staff;
  4. Require N95 masks be worn in school by all, regardless of vaccination status;
  5. Continue with other established mitigation efforts including social distancing, no large group gatherings, and improved ventilation;
  6. Prohibit the combining of classes due to staff shortages;
  7. Prohibit the unsuccessful practice of dual teaching;
  8. Provide access to COVID-19 vaccinations at all schools; and 
  9. Ensure that staff do not have to use their sick time during quarantine periods.
  • Click here for the coalition's updated "Core Principles Regarding Safe School Buildings."
  • Click here for the coalition's press release announcing the Core Principles.

The Board of Education Union Coalition represents over 60,000 public school employees (teachers and non-certified education personnel) across the state and includes members in the following labor federations and their affiliated unions: AFSCME, AFT Connecticut, CEA, CSEA SEIU Local 2001, CEUI, MEUI, and UAW.