The following letter was sent to Gov. Greg Abbott today addressing school closure and the governor’s plan for new orders expected tomorrow on the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Honorable Greg Abbott
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin Texas 78711
April 15, 2020
Dear Governor Abbott:
On behalf of the Texas American Federation of Teachers, thank you and your team for your efforts in responding to COVID-19, especially the efforts made for the millions of Texas public-school students and their families, their teachers, and the staff who serve them. As you work to determine how Texas should continue to respond to this unprecedented crisis, we ask that the health and safety of Texans continue to be your guiding principle moving forward.
Specifically, we ask that you officially close all Texas public schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the school year, allowing districts to plan for a safe reopening in fall of 2020. We certainly do not undertake this request lightly, as our members want to be back in their classrooms educating students. However, given the nature of the virus, we are deeply concerned that a brief reopening of schools in May could result in longer-term closures due to a spread of infections.
Our members see their work as a calling. Throughout the past month, educators and support staff have gone beyond the call of duty. From our teachers changing to distance learning practically overnight to our food service workers feeding our communities, public-school employees have stepped up to the challenge presented by COVID-19.
However, our members also realize that prematurely returning to schools would threaten the health and safety of all on campus. The threat of a school-wide outbreak and the ripple effects necessitate the continued closure of schools until we know with certainty that our children and all school staff are safe.
Please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff, as we continue to navigate this crisis together.
President, Texas AFT