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Teachers declared ‘essential workers,’ get vaccines but won’t commit to in-person learning by FALL

Teachers in the Fairfax County, Virginia Public Schools have moved to the head of the line for COVID-19 vaccines, but their union won’t commit to a return to in-person learning even by this fall.

As noted by OpenFCPS, a “bipartisan group representing thousands of Fairfax County parents advocating for FCPS to provide in-person learning,” Fairfax Education Association President Kimberly Adams told her school board that very thing on Thursday.

Adams said the district should remain in a hybrid format until all students are vaccinated. This likely would delay a full return to in-person instruction until at least next year.


ChicagoNow.com reports Adams also said

Fairfax Education Association is clear that staff will need two doses before returning staff to in-person instruction. We are just at the beginning of this education vaccination time period. The Governor wants us to open safely and if he is committed to vaccination as he mentioned today, then we wait just over another month before we plan to open schools.

Meanwhile, the other district union, the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, has on its website a rather lengthy “11 Pillars of a Safe Reopening.”

“Fairfax wants and needs to go back to school,” the Pillars statement reads. “But there is a right way and a wrong way–we owe it to our children, our families, our educators, and our communities to do it right. This can only be done when there is not substantial community spread of COVID-19 regionally, and only with the proper safeguards, practices and procedures to protect all human lives.”

ChicagoNow.com’s Dennis Byrne says Fairfax County teachers “are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, as if they are essential workers. Essential workers, that is, who aren’t working in a situation where they would be exposed to the pandemic.”

But actually, there is no “as if”; a link from the FEA’s own website to the state COVID vaccination page shows that, by definition, teachers are “Frontline Essential Workers.” In fact, out of nine bullet points, teachers are listed third.

OpenFCPS notes that since the pandemic began, Fairfax County has lost some 13,000 students to other means of education. “Many more families are currently considering whether to go private next year (with applications due soon),” it says.

“Regardless of whether the current budget forgives disenrollment losses from FCPS’s funding, eventually these losses will cause serious harms to FCPS’s funding. Ms. Adams’ statement tonight has caused real harm; harm that will impact teachers salaries & job security,” OpenFCPS tweeted.

Fairfax County is the tenth largest school district in the country. Last October, the FEA had demanded all-virtual instruction through August of this year.

MORE: Virginia bill gives parents education $ if local school refuses in-person learning

MORE: FCPS: Girls & boys are different, but can still shower together at school

IMAGE: fizkes / Shutterstock.com

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.