Unión del Barrio Statement Regarding the Demand to Re-Open Schools During the Pandemic

Union del Barrio rejects the Trump regime’s demands to re-open schools for the 2020-2021 academic school year. As an organization committed to critical pedagogy and democratic schooling, we are convinced that public schools should not resume in-person instruction until that time when it is deemed safe by public health experts and the broader scientific community. We reject the recent recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who changed earlier guidelines after the Trump administration intervened because Trump considered the initial guidelines s as “too tough and expensive.”

Unión del Barrio is an organization that upholds the general principles of public health and medical science. Therefore, we acknowledge the highly infectious nature of COVID-19 and its deadly consequences. In particular, the pandemic is more devastating to the raza working-class of our barrios. We reject reactionary trumpista conspiracy theories that are sometimes picked up and circulated by confused and uninformed members of our community.

Earlier this year, we acknowledged that “capitalism kills,” when we all saw how reactionaries and fascists demanded that the economic system be prioritized on an equal or higher level than public health. Because of this position, they publicly declared that a certain percentage of infections and deaths among the elderly was acceptable, if it meant that private businesses and the general economy would benefit. Today, with the pandemic worse than it was in March/April, these reactionaries are making the same argument, only now they want to make a human sacrifice of our young people and our educators at the altar of their economic system.

Unión del Barrio believes that human lives must be the only priority during this global health crisis. Any considerations that place economic gains on equal terms as public health must be denounced. Before any public schools can re-open safely, prioritizing public health requires the immediate nationalization of production of all personal protective equipment (PPE) for mass public distribution, and the immediate nationalization of COVID-19 rapid testing services to support open access to testing with instant results.

Only when there is substantive scientific evidence that conditions exist for in-person instruction, can we responsibly support school re-openings. Trump and his moronic Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos are ridiculously incompetent, and demonstrate a morbid rejection of their responsibility to protect students, staff, educators, and our communities in general from the dangers of this pandemic. They have no problem whatsoever with condemning all working-class students, public school staff, and working families to increased exposure to COVID-19. Ultimately, their intentions prioritize the public funding of private institutions.

Unión del Barrio qualifies the Education Secretary’s call to open schools as another assault that is part of their class war against working people, and a way to fast track the privatization of public education by funding private schools that do open in the fall. It is unconscionable to force people to attend in-person instruction and thereby worsen the pandemic that is devastating the world. It is not lost on us that in the U.S. this pandemic is most injurious upon Brown/Indigenous and Black communities. We are clear that the current federal attempt to re-open schools represents a demand for education workers to risk their lives to make up for the willful mishandling and political lunacy of trumpistas, the corporate elites, and their political puppets.

We demand that the governor of California take the necessary steps to ensure public education is fully funded, and capable of actions to slow the further spread of COVID19. We call on our communities to organize and build networks of support, for people’s education and self-defense, and to ensure our communities receive the necessary resources to access virtual instruction that is relevant and pedagogically critical. Our work will continue after this pandemic, meanwhile, we will not fear the capitalist system that is preying on us.

Now is the time to stop funding imperial wars, colonial police, and mass incarceration, and instead provide enhanced opportunities for working families, who have through all their hard work and years of exploited labor, to access quality public education during this pandemic.

List of demands:

  • The immediate removal of Betsy DeVos.
  • We must ensure that schools offer free COVID-19 testing that provides immediate results, and is available to all students, families, and staff.
  • Clear and culturally accessible guidelines must be deployed to minimize community transmission, and the necessary resources and dedicated personnel to ensure these guidelines are implemented.
  • Place the healthcare of students and teachers first; schools can only physically re-open when the COVID 19 curve has flattened, a vaccine is made accessible, and a majority of public health experts are determine re-opening to be safe.
  • When it is deemed safe to return to school, districts must be compelled to follow public health guidelines, and provide adequate funding for ongoing disinfecting and sanitizing classrooms, offices, and eating places.
  • If school districts decide to re-open with online instruction, we demand that students are provided the necessary technology and internet access to succeed in a digital classroom and that teachers and students be provided the materials and training needed for high-quality digital instruction.
  • California governor must demand that the U.S. government (like many other countries) move towards protecting its most vulnerable communities by implementing a moratorium on rents, mortgages, utilities and that local officials be provided the necessary funding to subsidize food access for ALL families, including monthly stipends.

The re-opening of public schools must adhere to public health science, NOT guided by maniac trumpistas, Wall Street for-profit interests, nor corporations.

Unión del Barrio

July 30, 2020