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.
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