In response to pressure from U.S. Education Secretary Betty Devos to open schools and her explicit criticism of plans by the Fairfax County Schools, Tina Williams, president of the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers issued the following statement Wednesday.
“Devos’ belief that we can return to school as normal is setting us all up for failure. A safe return to school is one that includes clear and concise guidelines that protect our students and those who work with them. We must use data driven standards to create a safe working and learning environment. Everyone wants to return to school, but our number one priority is student and staff safety. We continue to urge FCPS for thorough guidelines, but there are still many unanswered questions.”
The statement continued, “For example, what will contact tracing and monitoring look like, how will personal protection equipment be provided and distributed to students and staff and what are the protocols for a child or staff member when they get sick? Our educators really fear that the school district will still fall short during this health crisis and that’s largely because the current plan still lacks many of these details. Currently FCPS is asking all families for their choice, but only some teachers for their preference between virtual and face-to-face instruction. We are urging FCPS to provide all employees with the choice to pick what environment is most safe for them and their families.”