TEA calls on every Tennessee school district to provide personal protective equipment, all necessary sanitation supplies, and enough support professionals necessary for maintaining the safest possible teaching environments if or when students and educators return to public schools.
- School districts must mandate the use of face coverings to all who enter and remain in a school building, except in cases of persons who have trouble breathing or are otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. CDC notes face coverings provide a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people. Every educator in a school should be involved in maintaining mask use by students.
- School districts must provide every educator and student multiple cloth face coverings that can be cleaned and rotated in use. It is clear from CDC, state and local health department guidelines that face coverings are likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings and when social distancing is difficult to maintain, the very description of public school classrooms.
- School districts must provide every classroom with ample amounts of sanitation supplies on a continual basis. Disinfectant sprays, disinfectant disposable wipes, hand sanitizers, and standard disposable paper towels must be abundant and available for widespread and continual use in every classroom if or when students and educators return to public schools.
- School districts must provide every school with enough support professionals solely focused on disinfecting and cleaning classrooms and other areas of public schools. Approximately one support professional per ten active classrooms would provide disinfecting and cleaning capacity four times each day for each classroom and other common school areas.
School districts must provide these basic materials and services during the COVID-19 pandemic. By failing to provide these basic needs, districts will place employees and students at greater risk of infection, an unacceptable outcome.
Currently, some districts are improperly asking educators to sign liability waivers as a condition to return to work. Liability waivers demonstrate disregard for educator safety.
Any work requirement or request of employees by the district without providing assurances that any or all common-sense actions on personal protective equipment, sanitation supplies, and support professionals have been taken is also improper.