Miami-Dade and Broward teachers unions demand a safer return to school

DORAL, FL – Miami-Dade and Broward teachers unions are not happy with the current conditions set up for a possible reopening of schools on October 5 or earlier.

Karla Hernández-Mats, the president of the United Teachers of Dade, and Anna Fusco, the president of Broward Teachers Union, spoke about this on Wednesday claiming state and school district authorities have rushed the reopening of schools based on politics and economic factors and without implementing the correct safety measures against the coronavirus pandemic. 

“The decision to commence face-to-face instruction needs to be made based on science and the best medical data available. We have always said that. We are teachers: We believe in science; we believe in data — not on partisan politics or short-term economic factors,” Hernández-Mats said, as reported by Local 10.

Specifically, their concerns have to do with cleanliness and social distancing protocols. “Lives are going to be lost…They are going to crowd kids in a classroom,” Hernández-Mats said during her intervention. 

“We all deserve to go back into safe schools…We do not know the cleaning products that are being used … We do not know who will be cleaning intermittently during the day,” Fusco added. 

They also said when it comes to face-to-face instruction, there are contradictory messages going out to school administrators about social distancing.

Further on, the unions accused Gov.Ron DeSantis and Florida’s commissioner of education, Richard Corcoran, of pushing the districts to reopen by threatening to take away funding.

This factor is leading the districts to consider reopening without following the proper safety guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The union leaders said the parameters requested are within the American Federation of Teachers’ blueprint.

Anna Fusco, who made the statement, motivated her district to think about what will they do when deaths start happening.

Death is already in the teachers minds, specially of those who have survived the coronavirus. On Wednesday’s news conference, Stefanie Miller, a teacher at Fox Trail Elementary in Davie who spent 21 days in a ventilator after falling ill with COVID-19, said she is scared. 

“There is no reason to put anyone in harm’s way,” Miller said.

About all this, Daisy Gonzalez-Diego, a spokeswoman for Miami-Dade Public Schools, said in an statement sent to Local 10 that the district is following national and state health guidance to ensure that schools are sanitized and well maintained.

“The wellbeing of our students and our workforce is always at the forefront of our actions,” Gonzalez-Diego wrote. “Our approach to the reopening of schools is based on science and is informed by what is happening at the local level.”

Regardless, Miami-Dade and Broward teachers unions representatives are asking teachers and staff to use “#SafeSchoolsSFL” on social media to highlight safety issues.

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