White House criticizes the request
The Fairfax Education Association, which represents employees for Virginia’s Fairfax County Public School system, recently demanded that the school stay closed until August 2021. Its demand drew the attention not only of the school district, but also the White House.
The school district, the 10th largest in the country with more than 188,000 students, had planned to start returning some students to in-person learning in November, according to the district’s website.
The teachers union has circulated a petition with 1,100 signatures so far, calling for virtual learning for the rest of the school year. The union has more than 4,000 members, representing teachers and paraprofessionals, according to its Facebook page.
Its demand drew the criticism of the Trump administration.
“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,” a spokesperson told Inside Nova.
— Rory Cooper (@rorycooper) October 20, 2020
The petition said the current coronavirus statistics support the union’s demand. Fairfax County’s coronavirus infection rate in the past two weeks is less than 1 percent, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
“Science and Health Safety data support and require that no one should return to in person instruction,” the petition reads, “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 petition said.
The union also wants “medical grade” personal protective equipment, including foot coverings and goggles. It demands that “staff and families should be granted the option of teleworking/distance learning.”
“Since none of the requirements for safe return are likely to be met in the foreseeable future of the 2020-21 school year, we reiterate: Keep Fairfax County Public Schools Virtual for the 2020-21 school year,” the union said.
The school district released a response, according to WUSA 9.
Dr. Brabrand [district superintendent Scott Brabrand] is working with FCPS staff and partners to ensure a safe, measured student in-person return to our classrooms and buildings. We firmly believe that while virtual environments are necessary at the current time, students learn best in-person. That experience cannot fully be duplicated on a screen. Many thousands of FCPS teachers, families, businesses, and the community at large, have expressed their strong support for students to return to in-person learning and we are working diligently to make this a reality as swiftly and safely as possible.
Our superintendent will continue to collaborate and engage with teacher organizations as he has been doing for the entirety of the pandemic planning, to help ensure safe, effective plans.
IMAGE: WUSA 9/YouTube