The following message was sent to the St. Paul Public Schools School Board on Monday, January 10th from the St. Paul Federation of Educators executive board.
URGENT: SPFE E-Board Recommendation to SPPS School Board for COVID Response
80% of our student population are students of color; racial health equity must not be overlooked. We are in the midst of a public health crisis. Keeping our students and families safe from the spread of the multiple variants of COVID-19 and continuing to provide educational options to all of our students is critical at this time. Currently we have situations where large swaths of the student population at a school are at home, transportation is not able to provide buses for our students, and there is a lack of substitute teachers. We must not forget that many of our younger students are not yet vaccinated or are too young to get vaccinated. The current situation is unsustainable. To do nothing is abdicating the school district’s responsibility to our community.
Therefore we, the Executive Board of SPFE, recommend that the Board of Education direct the Superintendent and SPPS administration enact the steps herein immediately to address the current surge of COVID-19:
- Create a metric with SPFE to temporarily shift to remote learning for individual schools that takes into account transportation availability, staffing and substitute numbers, and COVID-19 positive cases at the site.
- Provide KN95 masks for staff and students and provide surgical masks immediately until more KN95s are available.
- Provide additional PCR tests for all staff to test twice a week regardless of vaccination status. And explore options to create a faster turnaround for staff to receive test results.
- Provide antigen or PCR tests for all students to test weekly.
- Provide each school with a sufficient supply of take-home Covid-19 tests to provide to any student exhibiting cold or flu symptoms and any student, staff member, or school volunteer who requests one.
- Continue contact tracing and notifying individuals who have been a close contact and quarantining according to MDH guidelines.
- For individuals who test positive for COVID-19, maintain the 10 day isolation period or require two negative antigen tests to return to school/work sooner.
- Allow schools to create a modified daily schedule to meet the needs of the students in the safest, most educationally sound manner.
- Call on the city and county to support SPPS in finding solutions to make sure our students and families are safe.