Home Coronavirus Fairfax County Educator Unions Urge FCPS to Continue Distance Learning

Fairfax County Educator Unions Urge FCPS to Continue Distance Learning

“We believe our community as a whole should not return to in-person learning until a vaccine or treatment is widely available for COVID-19."

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See below for the latest from educators in Fairfax County, the largest (by far) jurisdiction in Virginia, regarding a possible return to in-person learning this fall.

Dear FEA Members,

We hope that this email will reduce your anxiety about the coming school year, and we certainly appreciate all of our members who have been closely following and questioning the FCPS Return to School plans.

The FEA continues to work with the FCPS administration, the School Board and other groups to create the safest return to schools possible. We still believe that a virtual learning option for all is the safest return, but we also understand the desire for a hybrid plan.

Today, the Human Resources department sent an email that was very confusing to many people. We understand the anxiety of many of our members about the decision to return to school buildings, worksites, and buses. The email today was to alert employees that although the deadline in March has passed for a request for a Leave of Absence, FCPS WILL still grant those requests at this time.

In addition, if you may be in need of an ADA accommodation at work this year, you should file an ADA compliance document as soon as possible. This is separate from the anticipated HR form that will ask if you intend to teach in person or virtually in the coming school year. FCPS intends to honor all requests for virtual instruction, but that will, of course, depend on how many families decide to choose each option for their children.

FEA encourages ANY employee who feels that they and their family require the virtual option to fill out the HR request as soon as possible once it is received. FEA will continue to update our website with Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and the best answers we have thus far.  We know that many more questions than answers exist at this time. FCPS also continues to update their FAQ page.

The three unions in FCPS are working together to provide answers and to share our message of solidarity around keeping the focus on health and safety of employees and our students and families.  You can read our joint statement HERE.

FEA continues to compile your questions and concerns. We are regularly communicating them to the school board and FCPS Leadership. You can send questions and concerns to us through this Google Form or email them to us at president@fairfaxea.org.

Thank you for your continued membership.

Sincerely,

Kimberly Adams
President, Fairfax Education Association

Dear FCFT members,

Today FCPS staff received an unclear message from FCPS HR about returning to schools. The email did not convey a clear choice to staff that they will be able to select their personal preference for face-to-face instruction or virtual learning for the 2020-2021 school year.

On Tuesday, FCPS had stated it would ask employees to make this preference by July 10th. We contacted Dr. Brabrand and the School Board about our serious concern with the email issued this morning and were told that, “The memo today was to ALL staff so that they understand what resources are available to them. It was not a survey or questionnaire.” FCPS communicated to us that they will be issuing a survey to staff about their preferences in the coming days.

We’ve had a significant number of members reach out with concerns and questions about the plan. We compiled all of your questions, concerns and feedback and sent over 11 pages of questions to Dr. Brabrand, FCPS leadership and the School Board yesterday. We haven’t received a response yet, but will share as soon as we do.

We know that the updated draft plan provides limited details for both employees and families to be able to make an informed decision for next year. Due to lack of consistency and transparency in the FCPS plan, today we have joined forces with the Association of Fairfax Professional Educators and the Fairfax Education Association to issue a joint statement calling on FCPS to release much more detailed implementation plans for both scenarios well in advance of any selection deadlines for employees and families.

Given overwhelming educator concern with the ability of FCPS to keep employees and students safe, FCFT is joining the Association of Fairfax Professional Educators and Fairfax Education Association and encouraging our respective union members to clearly state their preference for continued virtual learning until such time as adequate information is made available for employees and families to make informed decisions about returning to face-to-face instruction.

We know FCFT members are receiving conflicting information from principals, FCPS leadership and fellow coworkers. If you have any questions, please contact us. And please share this information with your colleagues.

We are here for members during this extremely stressful time and stand united to demand a clear and detailed reopening plan from FCPS that puts staff and student health and safety first. Together we will fight for a plan that protects everyone.

In Unity,

Tina Williams

President

Fairfax County Federation of Teachers

Educator Unions Urge FCPS to Continue Distance Learning

Fairfax County, VA – On Tuesday, June 23, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) issued an updated “return to school” plan that appeared to provide employees and students with the option to work and learn in the environment that they feel is most safe for the 2020-2021 school year. FCPS has asked employees and families to select their personal preferences for returning to school for face-to-face instruction or remaining at home for virtual instruction by July 10th. Without providing much more detailed information about each of these options, neither group is able to make an informed decision at this time.

Due to lack of consistency and transparency in the FCPS plan, unions that represent Fairfax County Public Schools employees are calling on FCPS to work with union leadership to develop much more detailed clear and concise implementation plans for both scenarios, well in advance of any selection deadlines for employees and families. When finalizing its plan, FCPS should follow four basic principles, and prioritize: health expertise, educator voice, access to protection and a focus on equity. Success must be measured far beyond the first few weeks of the new school year.

Given overwhelming educator concern with the ability of FCPS to keep employees and students safe, Association of Fairfax Professional Educators, Fairfax County Federation of Teachers and Fairfax Education Association encourage our respective union members to clearly state their preference for continued virtual learning until such time as adequate information is made available for employees and families to make informed decisions about returning to face-to-face instruction.

“Our educators are overwhelmingly not comfortable returning to schools. They fear for their lives, the lives of their students and the lives of their families,” said Tina Williams, President of Fairfax County Federation of Teachers. “We call on FCPS to put workers and students first by listening to the employees on the frontlines of this crisis. Due to FCPS’ lack of consistency and transparency, we encourage our members to continue with distance learning to keep our community safe.”

“It is absolutely unacceptable that FCPS has established an arbitrary deadline for employees and students to make decisions about the next school year without adequate data or specific information regarding their options,” stated Becca Ferrick, President of Association of Fairfax Professional Educators. “Asking our employees to make such an uninformed decision is akin to asking them to sign a blank check. We will not do that.”

“We believe our community as a whole should not return to in-person learning until a vaccine or treatment is widely available for COVID-19. All staff should be provided the ability to continue virtual instruction as long as there is community spread of this virus,” stated Kimberly Adams, President of the Fairfax Education Association. “We will continue to make every possible effort to assist FCPS in developing a plan that keeps health and safety first.”