OPINION Page: Letter from OFT teachers' union president 'Not the right time to bring kids on campus'

The Ojai Federation of Teachers sent a letter to Ojai Unified School District Superintendent Tiffany Morse and the Ojai Unified School District Board of Education on Jan. 10, which was included in the Jan. 13 school board agenda.

By Angie Genasci, Ojai Federation of Teachers president
The Ojai Federation of Teachers respectfully requests to bargain the criteria for the return to campus at all grade levels and asks that the district pull back on their plans to return the elementary students and staff to campus on Wednesday, Jan. 13.
The pandemic has created an educational nightmare for all citizens. We are all trying to make our way through this situation carefully and with grace and hope the district shares our desire to collaborate on working through this challenge.
While our Federation president took part in a discussion on Wednesday, Jan. 6, and agreed to the current plan, the overwhelmingly negative reaction to this plan by our membership, the current number of positive cases in Ojai and the consistent jump each day of new cases in our community, along with the civil unrest in our country have changed our stance.
The educators of Ojai Unified care deeply about their students, their education and all aspects of their health.
The membership feels that the current plan of (1) bringing elementary students back to campus for two days in this and next week and beginning a full hybrid schedule the following week and (2) bringing the middle and high school students back to campus at the end of January before we know if the case rates have lowered to the guidelines set forth by our governor, is not one that is taking into consideration the physical safety of our students or staff.
We understand that the safety protocols established between the Federation and the district are what keep children and staff safe on campus; however, as you know, the information about this coronavirus changes daily. The most current variant of the virus, its ability to be transmitted easily coupled with the asymptomatic nature of COVID 19, and the fact that there are no ICU beds available in the county have us concerned for our students, our community, and ourselves.
We also understand that the district administration has a duty to respond to not only the staff but to parents and other community members. We know that they want our students at all age levels to be back in classrooms: learning, socializing, thriving.
We want this, too!
Right now, however, we feel is not the right time to bring kids on campus.