Educators must lead school reopening plans
The coronavirus pandemic has changed just about everything. As our thoughts turn to summer, many of us also are wondering what school will look like this fall.
I have not talked with any educator who prefers the current distance learning models; they all have a desire for something that more closely resembles school. But times are not normal, and this virus is insidious. In this health crisis, we must advocate for the health and safety of our members, our students, families, and communities. We also must advocate to ensure the best learning conditions for all our students, when we know there is much more we can and should be doing to reach and teach each student.
WEA is taking many steps to include educator voices as we address these issues moving forward.
We have 21 of our members serving on an OSPI work group tasked with providing input about school re-opening, and the direction that will come from OSPI, in accordance with guidance from the state Department of Health and Labor and Industries.
We have conducted focus groups to gather member insights regarding concerns that we have shared with our task force members. We heard a lot of your concerns — health and safety, economic security and flexibility, with an emphasis on improved teaching and learning, technology access, demanding explicit equity for students being left behind for no fault of their own, and more.
We are also fielding a survey of our members to seek additional input. If you are a WEA member and haven’t already taken it, check your inbox for an email with a link to the survey.
I have formed a “Covid Collaboration Council” of WEA committee members to work across issue areas and create a comprehensive strategy to address and come up with solutions to support students, our members, our bargains. This council is made up of committee members from the ESP Action Coordinating Team; Bargaining Support Work Team; Change, Innovations and Achievements; Education Support Associates, Early Career Educators; Health and Safety; Human and Civil Rights; and Small Rural Locals. They are investigating a range of ideas to keep educators at the forefront of how we address public education in the uncertain time of a pandemic.
We face many questions ahead as we continue to navigate through this pandemic, and we will face them together, as WEA and our local unions. One thing I always know to be true, is that when our members are united together, we bring positive change, for our students, ourselves, and public education.
As we begin to identify answers, WEA Vice President Janie White and I are committed to keeping you updated and informed.