New in-person learning guidelines
Dec. 16, 2020
Since the pandemic began, we have used our union strength to advocate for the health and safety of our students, staff, and school communities. We kept our focus on scientifically-supported data and we recognized that each of our school districts faces different challenges and environments for in-person learning.
In addition to science, safely operating in-person schooling in a pandemic requires the trust and confidence of educators, students and families that being in a school is safe. That trust and confidence must be earned, and it would have been much easier if we had more communication in advance from the governor about pending changes. In his press conference Wednesday, Inslee announced changes to the state Department of Health guidelines for in-person learning, along with a call to begin the process to phase in a return to in-person learning.
WEA's focus will continue to advocate with our locals to fully implement the mandated state Labor and Industries (L&I) workplace safety requirements – ensuring that they are in place wherever in-person learning is occurring. These include things like adequate PPE, appropriate distancing, good ventilation, effective contact tracing and testing.
We will support our local unions’ efforts to work with districts to create safety plans and communicate them effectively to our members, students and families. Districts must commit to meeting these requirements and seek out the appropriate expertise, develop the capacity and commit resources to ensure the safety of the entire school community.
I know that nobody wants to be back in classrooms as much as educators do. We all agree that it must be safe, and that educators, students and families can trust that it is safe. Together, we will work to demand a voice at the table, transparency from our districts, and full compliance with L&I safety mandates.
Statement by Washington Education Association President Larry Delaney on Gov. Inslee’s updates to the state Department of Health guidelines for schools:
“The trust and confidence that we can safely return to school is something that must be earned. It would have been easier to build that trust with educators with more communications in advance from the Governor about these pending changes.
We agree with the Governor that the spotlight should be on L&I safety requirements, which are key for building trust with educators, students and families. Districts must meet those requirements on day one. We need to know that there is adequate PPE, distancing, ventilation, an active and trained safety committee in each building, effective plans for contact tracing, testing and clear communications regarding protocols for what happens when a case is detected in school.
Implementing these guidelines in areas where school is still remotely operating will take time. We are concerned that the way these changes were rolled out implies that school can resume before there is time to put these safety measures in place.
WEA’s focus will be to advocate that these requirements are fully in place before any expansion of in-person teaching and learning.”