Read, Debate: Engage.
Support projects & petitions
August 11, 2020

Trump: stop reckless school reopenings during COVID-19

topic: Health and Sanitation
type: Petition
by: Yair Oded

As a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic rages across the United States, the Trump administration and some state governors are pushing through reckless back-to-school policies for the upcoming academic year, placing millions of children, teachers, parents, and their communities at an increased risk of exposure to a virus that has, to date, claimed the lives of more than 160,000 Americans.

Of the estimated $245 billion in federal investment required to conduct safe school reopenings, only $71 billion were offered by Senate Republicans - an offer conditioned to the resumption of in-class teaching. Schools in counties throughout the country reported having insufficient or no access at all to PPE, adequate ventilation, and necessary supplies such as hand soap. In Washington D.C., some public schools reported having no nurses on campus. 

A petition has been launched by Journey For Justice - a coalition of 30 grassroots organisations fighting for racial justice and equity - in which parents, educators, and activists from across the U.S. demand safer conditions as a prerequisite for school reopening. 

“As parents, students, educators, and community organizations deeply invested in America’s public schools, we are mortified by [the Trump] administration’s insistence on forcing children into school buildings in September without a comprehensive plan to ensure their safety,” the petitioners state. 

“The US Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, and several U.S. governors are cutting education funding at a time when support should be doubled to enable schools to meet the needs of traumatized children upon their return; children who have experienced the deaths of family members, neighbors and friends, and to ensure that schools can reopen in a safe, healthy, equitable and racially just way,” the petition further reads. 

Among other stipulations, the petitioners demand free COVID-19 tests, improved ventilation and sufficient supplies of PPE. They also ask the government to provide aid in the form of direct payments to unemployed parents, place moratoriums on standardised testing (which are highly expensive), and evictions and foreclosures. 

Highlighting the fact that the public education system in the U.S. was profoundly flawed long before the advent of COVID-19, the petitioners demand that the government take concrete actions to rectify some of the deep-rooted issues plaguing public schools. Highlighting the swelling culture of policing and racial discrimination in schools, the authors of the petition demand an immediate termination of police presence from school campuses. 

A hasty resumption of in-person teaching without instituting sufficient safety measures will wreak havoc on communities across the country already struggling to survive a pandemic and economic meltdown with no end in sight. Such policies would place vulnerable communities - including low income families and people of colour - at an even increased risk. 

Please take a moment to sign the petition and raise your voice in solidarity with parents and teachers fighting for theirs and their children’s lives.  

Image: Journey for Justice Alliance via