California Educator

October/November 2021

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Page 29 of 55

T H I S W A S the year when things were supposed to return to normal — but it's been anything but for schools in California. California has the lowest COVID-19 rate in the U.S., thanks to a highly vaccinated population and mask mandates. But infections and exposures are having a big impact on some districts, say teachers. Educators are weary but meeting the challenges head-on, as chapters negotiate agreements to keep students and staff safe in these difficult times. " We are constantly revising how the ship we're sailing on is built, because of how COVID has spread," says Lisa Bustillos, president of Brentwood Teachers Association in Contra Costa County. " We have had to quickly change course and constantly keep up with new regulations and ways to prevent the spread. "We reached a memorandum of understanding with our district that provides significant protections for members by extending COVID sick days, COVID testing and contact tracing. e challenges are numerous." Manuel Bonilla, president of Fresno Teachers Association, says educators are overwhelmed in his district, where hun- dreds of students have tested positive. " We recently asked our teachers to use one word to describe the way they 're feeling, and the overwhelming results were exhausted, tired and stressed," Bonilla said during an interview shortly into the new school year on "It's an overlay of not only trying to do your best to provide for the educational needs of the students, but also trying to provide for the health and safety of those students." Infections and quarantines take a toll CTA members and news media report that districts with predominantly low-income students are experiencing higher numbers of infected or quarantining students. Karen Rosa, president of the San Lorenzo Education Asso- ciation in Alameda County, noticed an uptick in COVID cases second- year scramble Quarantines, staffing shortages and surge in virtual students as educators and schools contend with year two of the pandemic By Sherry Posnick‑Goodwin 28 Feature Students in Capistrano Unified School District, where a survey of parents found that few wanted to transfer their children from in-person to online learning. Other districts have found the opposite.

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