I previously posted a statement on social media that I received from the VBEA stating that they are opposed to schools reopening this fall. The attacks toward me in the comment section were interesting. People saying that I no longer support teachers is absolutely incorrect. I want to share a portion of an e-mail that I received from a teacher asking us to reopen schools:
“I had a sad FaceTime conversation with one of my… students. She has my cell number because communicating with her during virtual learning was easier than Zoom. As we started talking her tears began to flow. She told me she was so worried about school next year and what it was going to be like. She sits at home alone a lot and doesn't get out to see friends. She misses school so much and wants to go back so bad.”
For all of those people with the VBEA saying that I don’t listen to teachers, the VBEA only represents a small portion of VB Schools employees. I’m also listening to all sides, including the large number of teachers who feel that it is in the best interest of the students to return to the classroom this fall. I have talked with many pediatricians and other physicians who have stated that the negative aspects of not having in-person learning far outweigh the impacts of COVID.
I still support our employees and I also support our parents and students. I support choice. I support those who want to opt-in their students to in-person learning but I also support those who want to opt-in to full time meaningful virtual learning. For our employees who have documented health conditions, options are being provided per the “reopening plans” provided by HR and I support our HR department for making those accommodations. Other plans for paid leave have also been put into place for anyone who has been exposed to COVID or must care for family members who have been exposed (see reopening plans for further details). I also support the division providing appropriate PPE to our staff.
I support our teachers and employees, but I do not support the VBEA. Last year when I was advocating for teacher working conditions related to student discipline problems, fighting and school safety the VBEA leadership filed a complaint against me, rather than helping me. They were not happy because I was exposing what was really happening behind the scenes. I have not seen the VBEA do anyting to help with teacher concerns related to student discipline problems and school safety?
For those stating that the VBEA is not a union and that there is no collective bargaining—you are incorrect. They are (by their own admission) a union and collective bargaining can also now be allowed in Virginia based on new legislation just passed.