Statement from President Gourley on Changes to School Masking Rules

The rules keep changing! While we welcome the feeling of hope behind the state’s lifting of its general masking requirements, a lot of exhausted school employees feel more confused. We’re simply trying to finish a stressful and – for many – traumatic year. We feel cynical about what will happen next and what information to trust.

Now, issues about masking will be decided at the local level. The timing will be horrible – for many of us this happens right after an abrupt return to work following spring break. I’m worried that it will lead to rules and guidance being unfairly applied in a patchwork fashion. What will happen with testing, quarantining and exceptions? What will happen with other pandemic related issues that have been bargained?

From day one of this horrible pandemic, OSEA-represented employees have kept things moving forward for our students, from a school’s boiler room to the bus barn. Statewide, the intention behind our advocacy has always been safety and protecting our rights. As essential workers on the ground in our schools every day, classified have an important perspective. We’re not teachers. We’re not volunteers. We’re not administrators. We have our own voice.

With this change, it’s going to be more important than ever that, at the local level, our employers listen to us. It’s a matter of respect. Our voices – loud and clear – deserve to be heard. They will be if we speak in unity for all we represent.