The Louisiana NAACP released the following statement about schools reopening statewide during the worsening COVID pandemic:
Education is the bedrock of our success in this country. We believe that access to our educational system has historically devalued and underserved families of color and those that come from families with a lack of access to resources.
We have seen the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education give local school districts the right to gamble with the lives of students and educators across the state. As this pandemic has become more deadly, local school districts have ramped up the return of students to schools. This counterproductive approach to a public health crisis has crippled the morale of educators across this state. More importantly, we have said on the record previously that we are opposed to the unsafe return of students to schools, particularly when these plans for reentry come in the face of a worsening pandemic.
We are now calling on the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to immediately:
1. Suspend testing for this academic school year for all students.
2. Suspend the contact minute requirement to allow districts to close schools when COVID-19 numbers are above 10% in their districts.
3. Require plans for reporting failure of school districts to meet the minimum guidelines of safety in their schools.
4. Engage with stakeholders, to create an apolitical plan to effectively begin the reopening of school for next year.
5. Engage the data around the disproportionate nature that this virus impacts communities across this state.
“The attempt by our educational system to cherry-pick the rules they want to follow from the CDC has crippled our ability to have thoughtful conversations about the safe return to school. An example is the right given to districts to disregard the guidance that requires 6 feet from other students. The state instead has opted to include language that allows a violation of this guidance by including language that states ‘to the maximum extent possible.‘ The lives that are being put at risk is a testament to why we have excelled at being last in education for so long. We must now shift our mindsets to think outside of the box that has kept us trapped at the bottom for so long, ” said Jamal Taylor, chair of the Louisiana NAACP Education Committee.
In the spirit of finding solutions we have requested a meeting with state officials and look forward to a response that would move the discourse forward. Safety and health are not negotiating chips; they must be at the forefront of moving this conversation forward.
President, Louisiana NAACP State Conference