News Release: Texas AFT launches School Safety Week actions aimed at Gov. Abbott to put safety first with on-campus school instruction

National School Safety Week

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 19, 2020

CONTACT:
Rob D’Amico, 512-627-1343, rdamico@texasaft.org

Texas AFT kicked off School Safety Week Saturday with Car Caravans in several cities highlighting school employees’ demands to put safety over politics in a return to face-to-face instruction.

Our local unions organized Car Caravans in Houston, Northeast Houston, Aldine, Fort Bend, and McAllen. Texas AFT also is launching a petition drive demanding that the governor take action to let local health authorities and school districts make the ultimate decisions on what will be safe in-person instruction.

“Our key objections to reopenings are directed at Gov. Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Education Commissioner Mike Morath,” said Texas AFT President Zeph Capo. “Our current policies do not protect Texans. The only way you can protect yourselves, and your family is to vote them and their friends out of office.” Texas AFT is urging its members to vote early and elect supporters of public education that will keep them and their communities safe.

Historically, National School Safety Week (Oct. 17-23) has drawn attention to school violence. However, the pandemic has made forcing educators, employees, and students back into unsafe school environments the focus of the week.

“More than 2,300 reports to our COVID-19 tracking site, stopthespreadtx.school, tell a story of inconsistent safety measures and varying levels of enforcement for basic precautions like masks and social distancing,” Capo said. “Gov. Abbott and the TEA have listened to indicted Attorney General Ken Paxton rather than the expertise of local health officials and public school employees,” Capo added.

In addition to the Car Caravans from Saturday, Texas AFT also is presenting a School Safety Week Forum on Facebook Live on Wednesday, Oct. 21, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Panelists will be addressing a variety of questions and concerns from Texas Educators. Panelists will include Capo, Cynthia Gutierrez (Hidalgo County Health Department), Alejandra Lopez (San Antonio Alliance union president), and invited legislators.

Texas AFT members also will be using social media with resources at texasaft.org/safetyweek to highlight our actions–using the hashtags #SchoolSafety and #StopTheSpreadTX.

Texas AFT President Zeph Capo, leaders from our local unions, and school employees also will be available for comment this week.