Guidance Document for School Reopenings and Waivers for In-Person Instruction

PTA recently created a document that provides helpful guidance on two related issues that many of you may be facing right now: school re-openings and waivers for in-person elementary instruction. To read the document in its entirety, click here.

California State PTA’s “School Reopening Principles” are based on our organizational goals and purposes, input from our local leaders and from our parent listening sessions last summer, our longstanding educational and legislative stances, and the most current information from reliable educational and health agencies. We encourage local PTAs and school districts to adhere to these principles during important conversations regarding school reopening.

Waiver Applications for Elementary School In-Person Instruction have become a difficult issue for local PTAs and the guidelines and explanation released today are intended to help local PTA leaders navigate this issue. By way of background: School districts in certain counties, which would otherwise be prohibited from allowing in-person instruction due to the COVID-19 category they are in, have the option of applying for a waiver to reopen for elementary grades. If the waiver application meets all the criteria, the county department of health can approve in-person instruction.

By state policy, the school district has to consult with parent organizations before submitting a waiver application. In Los Angeles County, the Department of Public Health has even made it a requirement to attach a letter of support from parent organizations (and also all employee associations and others). Other counties may be doing that as well.

This has led to many PTAs being pressured to write letters of support for their school districts to reopen for younger grades. This puts PTAs in an untenable position. Not only does it unfairly force PTAs to essentially reduce all parent/family input on a complex and nuanced issue into a single “yes” or “no” position, but it also puts PTAs at risk of liability for having officially supported in-person instruction.

The decisions facing schools, PTAs, and families on important issues of educational opportunity and health are complex, and we hope that California State PTA’s Principles for School Reopening and our guidance on waiver applications will assist you with these crucial conversations.