Fresno Teachers Association voices concerns over COVID-19 safety

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Fresno Teachers Association is calling on Fresno Unified to take action. They claim teachers have serious concerns about the district's COVID-19 protocols and safety.

The FTA is asking the district to implement a 10-point action plan to better protect students and staff. It calls for better communication of COVID-19 protocols, a COVID-19 dashboard, added resources and extending leaves.

"If you talk to parents, if you talk to administrators, if you talk to students, you're going to hear the same thing," said FTA President Manuel Bonilla. "There's a lot of confusion, there's a lot of anxiety. We're saying let's find a solution, let's re-calibrate before things get worse."

On Thursday, the Fresno Teachers Association presented a 10-point COVID safety action plan.

"We're more concerned about the beginning of this year, then we were last year, if that gives you any indication," added Bonilla. "That's because we know the stress and anxiety level is very high amongst our educators and not just our educators, but all the staff."

The union asked the district to implement district-wide COVID-19 testing, vaccine incentive for students and better access to personal protective equipment, also known as PPE.

"We're hearing across the district that teachers are not only spending their own money for PPE," said Bonilla. "They're also spending their own money for additional instructional resources."

Board member Terry Slatic saying he understands the concerns.

"They're all correct. It's a hot mess of proportions we haven't seen previous," said Slatic.

However, Slatic has a different view from other board members. Keisha Thomas saying they are hard at work to keep everyone safe and that it's always a work in progress.

"Now I'm not saying as a school district we're 100% ready for whatever comes at us, because we're not," said Thomas. "We didn't look for the variant to come. We were hopeful that our kids wouldn't be affected."

She says the board will continue to consider any changes that need to be made.

"We've had all these conversations about how do we make sure our kids are safe?" said Thomas. "By no means are we taking this lightly. We will keep our kids as safe as we can."

In a statement, Fresno Unified says they have already implemented one of the requests launching a COVID-19 dashboard in Thursday. However, it doesn't provide all the details requested by the FTA due to privacy.

The district says they're already working on many of the other changes requested by the FTA, including working with nurses on quarantine guidelines.

The Fresno Teachers Association is asking FUSD to implement the following:

1. Communicate and implement uniform COVID-19 protocols districtwide.

2. Provide a Recalibration (In-service day) for all employees and a townhall for community members

3. Create and communicate a process to provide adequate Personal Protective Equipment for each classroom and school site

4. Establish a FUSD Covid-19 dashboard

5. Provide a vaccine incentive for students.

6. Extend Covid-19 supplemental leave for employees.

7. Cover Covid-19 related sick time for breakthrough infections for vaccinated employees.

8. Create and implement districtwide COVID-19 testing for students and employees.

9. Collaborate with labor groups to increase the FUSD substitute pool.

10. Provide additional classroom resources for teachers.
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