Teachers know that the best way for students to learn is in-person, not remote – but only when it is safe to do so and certainly not at the peak of the highly contagious Omicron variant. That is why the District’s most recent (in)decision to have 29 schools resume in-person learning while 21 schools remain remote until January 18 creates more chaos, more danger, and more confusion. While the Superintendent claims that the decision is based on their analysis of data, she does not name that data nor did she seek any input from teachers or their representatives. It appears that the District’s “data” was primarily to determine which schools would split up and combine classes. Never mind the harm this does to instruction.

Medical experts predict that virus contagion will be most evident during the second half of this month. All along our position has been, and remains, that remote learning would be the safest decision until the Omicron surge subsides. In the interim, the District should use that time well to help get more eligible students vaccinated, to arrange for effective COVID testing, and to provide N-95 and KN-95 face masks for all students, teachers and other staff.

We have continuously insisted with the District that teachers who teach remotely should have the option to do so from home. The Superintendent continues to deny that option. She seems oblivious to the fact that this increases the potential for contracting the virus, represents an unnecessary burden to teachers, and forces some teachers into unsafe and unhealthful environments. At some schools there is no heat and some teachers, to stay warm, resort to teaching from their vehicles parked at the school’s parking lot. We are pressing the District to immediately address this and have already filed a Class Action Grievance.

The District is failing to provide trustworthy and competent leadership at a time it is needed the most. Nonetheless, we will get through this because of our solidarity and because of your dedication to students. And you can count on us to continue to advocate tirelessly for your safety and the safety of all our students.

Adam Urbanski, RTA President