Fairfax County teachers union again calls for delay in resuming in-person learning

The Fairfax County Federation of Teachers has again asked Virginia’s largest school system to delay this month’s start of in-person learning.

Fairfax County Public Schools said it’s ready to safely bring back special education students and English language learners — about 3.5% of its nearly 188,000 students.

While Superintendent Scott Brabrand has offered assurances that the school system is ready to return its most vulnerable students, the teachers’ union said nearly 86% of its members surveyed by the union indicated they lack confidence in the school system’s reopening plan.

“We are urging FCPS to delay reopening until there is a clear plan in place to keep everyone safe and the district adopts our 11 pillars of a safe reopening,” said Tina Williams, the union’s president.

The school system said it has a clear plan to keep teachers, students, staff and their families safe.

But Audrey O’Hara, who teaches English learners at Braddock Elementary, is worried about the well-being of two family members who she said are vulnerable to serious complications if they contract COVID-19.

“I’ve been forced into the position of choosing between my family or my job, a decision that I should never have to make. I truly love teaching and being with my students, but I also truly love my family,” O’Hara said in a Tuesday night online presentation.

The teachers’ union is asking the public school system to adopt a virtual work option for all staff.

While teachers concede that remote learning is no match for in-person instruction, they are also proud of the success they’ve achieved working with their students online.

“Distance learning has been going very well for my first-grade class, and the majority of reports I’ve been hearing from my colleagues have been the same … my class has been highly engaged; we’ve been learning together, singing, dancing, having fun, doing all the same things that we do in person, but doing it from the safety of our homes,” said Emily VaDerhoff, a first-grade teacher at Hunt Valley Elementary School and a member of the executive board of the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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