Statement on Premature School Opening
Approved by the CDDSA Executive Committee on 27 July 2020.
The Capital District Democratic Socialists of America strongly opposes the premature opening of New York State public schools in the fall, as outlined by the New York Board of Regents, amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Capital District DSA rejects the notion that any threat to the lives and health of our students, staff and faculty represents an “acceptable level of risk.” In the absence of any universally mandated, implemented and federal and state funded safety program, the overwhelming additional costs and administrative burdens placed on individual schools and districts stands as a callous and dangerous abdication of basic governmental responsibility.
Particularly egregious is the state’s inability or unwillingness to provide districts with the mandated personal protection equipment (PPE) and property testing capabilities, or funding for the purpose thereof. Leaving the provisioning of medically necessary supplies to individual schools and districts not only will break already thin public school budgets, but will also all but ensure that underserved, predominantly minority communities, already disproportionately impacted by this crisis, will be left unable to obtain sufficient numbers of vital supplies. Further, the overcrowding of many of these underserved, underfunded, and understaffed schools, often exacerbated by poor ventilation systems, renders social distancing in many buildings virtually impossible. It is simply unacceptable that any school or community in our state should have to suffer these awful consequences on account of its racial, socioeconomic or ethnic identity.
Capital District DSA further objects to the additional obligations and expectations now levied on our already overburdened and underpaid teachers without any corresponding increase in salary, benefits, or necessary pandemic-related protections such as extended paid sick time and personal leave. This gap between added responsibilities and inadequate compensation and protections impacts not only our teachers, but also custodial, food service, social, and administrative workers whose essential jobs may put them and their families at home at greater risk for infection.
Capital District DSA is also concerned with the persistent talking point, meant to serve as an underlying justification for the reopening policy, that young people, particularly elementary-aged students, are less likely to contract the virus, as this notion has been proven counterfactual. Younger students are, in fact, more likely to be asymptomatic carriers rather than simply being immune to the novel coronavirus1. This increased potential for undetected spreading makes any plan for contract tracing untenable and is likely to turn schools into superspreader sites. Moreover the overstated notion of juvenile resistance ignores the multiple cases of young deaths, especially from children with preexisting conditions, as well as the risks an asymptomatic carrier poses to those outside the school, such as in the home or the community at large. Also, no provisions have been made for protection of teachers, students and staff that already are immunocompromised or have other medical issues that increase their vulnerability.
It seems clear that, under the current Regents plan, the most vulnerable among us will once more be the most exposed to harm; harm that is not potential or hypothetical but real, tangible and pressing. Full scale in-class instruction threatens to wind back the minimal gains made by New York State in combating the COVID-19 crisis and puts millions of lives at greater risk in the process2. Capital District DSA proposes a fall plan built around online learning with sufficient state funding allocated to provide student households with adequate internet access necessary for remote education as well as funding for at home lunch subsidies at least equitable to the subsidies offered to students prior to the shutdown of schools in March.
As democratic socialists, we support only solutions that, first and foremost, guarantee the safety and health of our schools and communities and, in doing so, center the needs and interests of working people. If we truly believe our students, teachers, and school staff to be vital to that future, there can be no cut corners or half measures in the maintenance of their wellbeing.
1. Jones, T. C., Mühlemann, B., Veith, T., Biele, G., Zuchowski, M., Hoffmann, J., Stein, A., Edelmann, A., Corman, V. M., Drosten, C. (2020). An analysis of SARS-CoV-2 viral load by patient age. doi:10.1101/2020.06.08.20125484
2. Zhang, J., Litvinova, M., Liang, Y., Wang, Y., Wang, W., Zhao, S., Wu, Q., Merler, S., Viboud, C., Vespignani, A., Ajelli, M., & Yu, H. (2020). Changes in contact patterns shape the dynamics of the COVID-19 outbreak in China. Science 368(6498), 1481-1486. doi:10.1126/science.abb8001
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Statement on Covid-19 Crisis
Approved by the CDDSA Executive Committee on 19 March 2020.
We hope this message finds you and yours safe and healthy and that you’re getting along okay in this really difficult time. We’d like to share with you some changes in our operations and at least a first draft proposal on chapter-wide mutual aid efforts. As challenging as this time is for our organizing, it’s also an opportunity to demonstrate by example our core socialist values of solidarity and comradeship. Be well, stay safe and keep in touch!
In solidarity and comradeship,
Capital District DSA Executive Committee
In order to maintain medically-prescribed social distancing and avoidance of large gatherings, committee and branch meetings will be held on Zoom using Capital District DSA’s account. At present, the meeting schedule is as follows:
|24 March||Columbia-Greene Branch Meeting|
|25 March||CDDSA Labor Committee Meeting|
|1 April||Troy Branch Meeting|
|12 April||CDDSA Executive Committee Meeting|
Zoom invites for meetings will be sent out three days prior via our mailing list.
If CDDSA members in good standing need to use our chapter Zoom account for personal business, please contact chapter or branch officers. We’ll do our best to set it up for you.
Note to branch officers and committee chairs: If you don’t have the chapter Zoom password, please contact our chapter secretary.
As a matter of solidarity and comradeship we need to reach out to community members who are the most vulnerable:
- in high-risk age groups
- existing illnesses and immune deficiencies
- limited or no access to healthcare
- unhoused or unemployed
- high risk occupations
So, as a CDDSA member, can you:
- pick up and deliver groceries or prescriptions for someone who can’t leave their home?
- care for someone’s pets while they’re hospitalized?
- walk someone’s dog?
- cook meals for a someone that’s sick?
- share media, spare medical supplies, or storage space?
- help a comrade who’s suffering from social isolation and needs conversation and companionship?
- act as a skills and knowledge resource?
If you need assistance, or can volunteer aid, please fill out our Covid-19 Crisis Mutual Aid form.
For the duration of this crisis, we recommend you comply with World Health Organization guidelines to maintain personal safety and prevent the spread of this virus:
- In order to protect yourselves and others, avoid non-essential travel
- Minimize face-to-face contact and try to keep a 6 ft. distance between you and another person. When out and in public, don’t touch your face.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often. If soap and water isn’t available, hand sanitizer is an adequate substitute.
- Wash any of your items (e.g. reusable shopping bags) that come into physical contact with something you don’t know to be uncontaminated.
For more information on SARS-CoV-2 aka Covid-19 aka Coronavirus and what you can do to protect yourself and others and act in this difficult time, Build DSA recently hosted an online presentation by Dr. Jennifer Gaddy, Assistant Professor at the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Best of luck to you all.
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