Letters to the Editor: Teachers want their safety ensured. Is that too much to ask?

Five people holding signs and wearing masks
An October 2020 protest outside Los Angeles City Hall calling for schools to reopen for in-person classes.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Demands to reopen schools now are understandable expressions of desperation, exhaustion and concern for our children; however, they gloss over complex, on-the-ground realities. The bottom line is, the devil is in the details. (“Start reopening California schools. Now,” editorial, Feb. 5)

Public school teachers have long put up with crumbling infrastructure, inadequate cleaning and maintenance, overcrowded campuses and inefficient, unresponsive bureaucracies. We know there will be lapses in the implementation of public health protocols required to keep us safe.

In order to build the trust needed for educators and students to return to classrooms, district leaders must be more honest about these challenges and commit to doing better.


Instead of scapegoating teachers and our unions to deflect parent ire, committed and competent school leaders must work with us to ensure robust, effective implementation of all risk-mitigation measures — including ongoing, asymptomatic testing of staff and students. Is that really too much to ask?

Sarah Rodriguez, Inglewood


To the editor: Can we please acknowledge that many Southern California teachers were forced to return to the classroom in the fall? When we returned to the highest tier of virus transmission, no one else was allowed to open, but those of us who already were teaching in person were “allowed” to remain open.

My colleagues and I are now stuck teaching under conditions that the state determined to be unsafe. Those of us who were thrown back in have been ignored. Meanwhile, teachers are not a vaccine priority.

There is a teacher shortage that will be exacerbated by this disregard for our safety. It may not have hit affluent suburban districts yet, but it’s coming.

Stephanie Aldemir, Mission Viejo



To the editor: While The Times Editorial Board’s call for schools to reopen now may be well-intended, it will do nothing but increase stress during a national crisis. The number of new infections in Los Angeles County still puts us in the highest tier of widespread transmission.

There needs to be a well-rounded conversation about the return to on-campus learning, and that conversation must include addressing community spread.

How are we able to speak about reopening schools as if our staff will be kept safe in some kind of bubble, when the truth is that everyone goes home at the end of the day and brings infection risk back to our school sites the next morning?

Until there is a significant decrease in community transmission, we are fooling ourselves by discussing returning to campus as a safe option.

Alana Castanon, Los Angeles