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Priorities for return to school

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Heidi Home LessonEducators say there's a lot of work to be done before classes resume this fall. As the impacts of the pandemic continue to unfold, it's clear to WEA members that flexibility is needed, and a one-size-fits-all plan won't work.

Districts also must deal with shortcomings that became apparent this spring, especially around meeting the needs of marginalized students. Only 17 percent of respondents in a WEA statewide survey conducted this past month believe the needs of traditionally marginalized students are being met through current distance-learning practices.

Almost half of the respondents believe individual counties or districts should define what shape instruction will take this fall. A quarter of respondents believe a partial distance-learning, partial in-building model is needed; 15 percent believe instruction should be entirely through distance learning, and 14 percent believe all instruction should be at school.

More than 15,000 WEA members participated in the online survey, which was conducted May 27-June 2. Eighty-six percent believe their union’s advocacy has been great (60 percent) or good (26 percent) during the pandemic.

WEA members are split on their comfort level with working on-site in the fall: 53 percent are comfortable returning to their buildings, but 41 percent are uncomfortable. Nearly 60 percent of the respondents trust that their district will follow health department guidelines for cleaning, sanitizing and personal protective equipment, while 19 percent do not trust their district.

If distance learning is required in the fall, nearly 80 believe more training is necessary. Over half (56 percent) of respondents believe they need limited professional development prior to classes resuming. Another 23 percent believe they need significant professional development or training.

Of potential school investments the state could make in response to the pandemic, 43 percent preferred flexible funding that can be used to meet needs in each school or district; 20 percent favored technology support for students and staff; 16 percent favored additional counselors, psychologists, social workers  and nurses, and 11 percent suggested family engagement workers or activities.

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