The Fairfax County Education Association put out a statement two weeks ago advocating for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year to remain virtual. Now, two weeks before the presidential election, the group’s stance appears to have grabbed the attention of the White House.
The regional communications office for President Donald Trump reached out to InsideNoVa.com on Tuesday, offering reaction from the White House to the FEA’s position.
“In July at President Trump’s direction, the CDC encouraged local school districts to create plans that would anticipate cases, minimize spread, and limit the need for school closures,” a White House official said in an email. “As early as July, the Trump Administration emphasized the need for American students to be in the classroom, following guidance from scientists, teachers, and administrators from around the country.”
FEA President Kimberly Adams this morning said she hasn’t heard from the White House but did start getting calls for comment Tuesday from what she considers conservative-leaning media organizations.
The FEA is encouraging its 4,000 members to petition the school board to “Draw the Line” by keeping Fairfax County Public Schools virtual for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.
“Science and Health Safety data support and require that no one should return to in person instruction until there is a widely available scientifically proven vaccine or highly effective treatment. The metric for Safe Reopening should be 14 days of zero community spread,” the association says on its website.
Under the latest plan approved by the school board, pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and some special needs and intensive support students will return to in-person learning Nov. 16.
The new interest in the FEA’s position appears to stem from a Tuesday Twitter post by Rory Cooper, a self-described political and policy strategist, who tweeted a sample letter from the teacher’s union to Fairfax County School Board members.
The tweet received more than 1,000 comments and hundreds of shares. Cooper is the former communications director for U.S. Congressman Eric Cantor, a Republican who represented Virginia’s 7th District from 2001 to 2014.
“The Trump Administration has made it clear since the beginning of the summer that schools should reopen so America’s children can receive an IN-PERSON education,” the White House official wrote. “At the beginning of the summer, President Trump welcomed teachers, administrators, and students from across the country to discuss the reopening of America’s schools.”
Adams said the FEA’s position is that teachers should have the same choice as students and families about in-person or virtual classes.
“At the end of it all we’re just trying to make sure it’s the safest option,” she said.