Newsletter

Teachers’ Union: Members Not Confident in Fairfax’s Plan for Returning

An overwhelming majority of Fairfax County Public Schools teachers say they are not confident in Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) reopening plan, according to a survey conducted by the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers.

The federation released the results of three surveys Tuesday evening during a press conference. The data paint a stark picture for county teachers, who report fearing for their health and that of family members, working far beyond their contracted hours, and feeling the effects on their mental and physical health.

The message from the Federation of Teachers is clear: Members want the school district to delay reopening until the FCPS plan improves communication, provides specific metrics, and offers every teacher a virtual option, a few hallmarks of the teachers’ 11 requirements for a safe reopening.

“Our position has always been, and continues to be, that we want kids back in school as quickly as possible, but that means as safely as possible,” said Tina Williams, president, Fairfax County Federation of Teachers.

FCPS did not return Tysons Reporter’s request for comment.

The response comes one week after Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand presented his reopening plan to the county school board. Under the proposed plan, about 6,700 students could return to school in October, with more trickling in throughout the year if conditions improve. Members criticized the lack of hard numbers and concrete metrics, especially regarding school closures after outbreaks.

Of the 1,300 teachers who responded, 85.7% are not confident in FCPS reopening plan, and 70% feel unsafe returning, while 21% said they are “unsure.” About 27% said they would consider taking a leave of absence, while 26% were undecided.

Some teachers who are older or have conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus, or who live with family members who are high-risk, said they face an ultimatum to work or leave because their applications for accommodations were denied.

Instructional assistant Tia Williams, who said her application was denied due to staffing shortages, is expected to return this October. She is worried about the coronavirus because four cousins and six uncles have died from it.

Diabetes and asthma run in the family, and she has both conditions, making her at-risk.

“I want to continue to work, but I don’t want to bring home a virus to my family,” she said.

Emily VanDerhoff, the vice-president of the teachers’ federation, said the federation does not know how many requests were denied.

“That’s a good question for FCPS. They should be transparent,” she said. “I think they talk like they are all being approved, but they’re not.”

FCPS did not respond to a request for numbers of approved and denied applications for accommodations.

Audrey O’Hara, who teaches English as a Second Language classes, said her options are to resign, retire, take a leave of absence or consent to enter a building with inadequate ventilation.

“FCPS is asking me to make life-changing decisions where my family loses either way,” she said.

Federation leadership stressed the workload teachers are bearing. Of the 895 teachers who responded, 99% said they worked beyond their contracted hours, including 203 who reported working an extra 20 hours a week.

More than 80% reported that the extra work hurts their sleep, keeps them from exercising and impacts their mental health.

About 60% of teachers said they needed more time, suggesting less meetings, shorter instructional days and more hours for planning.

Photo courtesy Dan Dennis on Unsplash

Recent Stories

A Youth Art Exhibition at Dulles Airport showcases work by Fairfax County students (courtesy McLean Project for the Arts) Before enduring the indignities of modern airport security, people flying out…

Live Fairfax is a bi-weekly column exploring Fairfax County. This recurring column is sponsored and written by Sharmane Medaris of McEnearney Associates. Questions? Reach Sharmane at 813-504-4479. Are you an inspired foodie like…

The clock is ticking for Fairfax County and the D.C. region to adopt a new transportation plan aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This past June, the National Capital Region…

Giant Food in Vienna (via Google Maps) A man who allegedly fired a gun during a family dispute in the parking lot of Vienna’s Giant Food has been arrested, the…

Chris Green is one of the DMV’s finest fitness instructors. A Lululemon and South Block ambassador, he is a coach and mentor to so many. He embodies grace, positivity and motivation in ways that no one else can. If we could all learn a thing or two from him, the world would be a much better place. He does so much for others, and does so with a smile on his face 99% of the time.

He recently ruptured his Achilles and has an incredibly long and tough journey ahead. As if COVID hadn’t impacted fitness professionals enough, throw this in the mix and it’s a double, even triple whammy. CG is no longer able to work and do what he loves for the time being because of this and we’d love your support.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here for just $99.

The Rhea Baker State Farm Agency is proud to support Shelter House in providing safe places to be during quarantine. Shelter House’s mission is to prevent and end homelessness and domestic violence. Right now they are providing over 200 hotel rooms to those in need in our community. In the past year, across all programs, Shelter House served nearly 500 households comprised of over 1,500 individuals, 60% of which were children.

Of the households that exited shelter, over 70% moved to permanent housing. The Baker Agency has served Vienna and Tysons residents and business owners since 2007 and proudly offers insurance solutions for you home, condo, auto insurance, life insurance and more. We offer complimentary reviews and coach teen drivers to safer, better drivers, and to help keep your auto insurance rates down! We are always happy to talk or text at 703-847-6880.

Submit your own Community Post here for just $99.

×

Subscribe to our mailing list