SPI talks COVID testing with ACSA members

October 19, 2020
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond was on ACSA’s Legislative Lunch Break Oct. 7 to talk about voting, school COVID testing, racial justice, educator burnout and more. “I’m not doing any more than our students are doing every day,” Thurmond said when joining the show via webcam, adding that he is amazed at what California administrators have been able to do during distance learning this year. On the topic of coronavirus testing, Thurmond said he is working on improving access to testing for schools, which he said has been “uneven.” Schools with more resources have been able to provide testing while others have had to rely on community testing, he said. Thurmond was asked about the California Department of Education’s new “Education to End Hate” initiative designed to empower educators and students to confront the hate, bigotry, and racism rising in communities across the state and nation.   Thurmond said 200 districts have already applied for mini-grants to provide educator training in this area. “The American people are saying that we want to see change, we want to see racial justice. We’re saying that we think education plays a role in that process,” he said. “But our teachers and administrators have to have the right tools, they have to have coaching and material and curricula to have those conversations.” When asked about combating educator burnout, Thurmond said we must find ways to help educators access self-care that will sustain them through the long haul. “We’ve been at this since March with a kind of intensity. I think sometimes we go every day as if, the harder we work, the faster we can solve this. And you know, I’ve had to change my own approach to the work,” he said. Thurmond also urged viewers to vote and send a message to Washington that funding is needed to support schools and communities. “I think it’s irresponsible, I just have to say it, that the president is saying that there won’t be another stimulus package until after the election,” he said. “California schools and all of our schools in our nation need resources now. And it’s not just our schools — our economy has been devastated by the pandemic ... we all need the federal government to lean in.”

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