VEA President: Health, Safety Must Remain Top Priority
February 5, 2021
February 5, 2021
VEA President Dr. James J. Fedderman issued the following statement after Governor Northam’s briefing earlier today:
During a global pandemic that has cost more than 450,000 American lives, hugely damaged our economy, and forever changed life as we know it, public school educators have been nothing short of astounding. Whether suddenly thrust into virtual teaching, delivering meals, using mobile hotspots to expand internet access, or just maintaining contact with students and families, educators have kept learning alive and our young people moving forward under challenging circumstances. Our schools never closed—only our school buildings did.
No one wants to be back in those buildings more than we do. We know that in-person instruction is the goal, and we believe that we are getting closer to being able to do that every day. However, the best way to move ahead is not to set an arbitrary date. Instead, we must keep our focus on ensuring that all school staff members have the opportunity to be vaccinated and that all necessary safety precautions and mitigation measures are in place, along with the resources to sustain them.
Rushing the process and exposing our educators and students to risks we’ve been warned against even for Super Bowl parties is not our best strategy.
Our schools have always offered summer learning options to reinforce and enrich instruction. An expanded summer program, staffed by educators who choose to participate and are paid for their work, will help students and families counter potential learning losses. And those losses, along with the ways to address them, are best determined by educators with instructional goals, not politicians with political ones.
Note: VEA President Fedderman will be a member of the Virginia LEARNS Workgroup being formed by the Virginia Department of Education to help guide public schools in the weeks and months ahead.
The more than 40,000 members of the Virginia Education Association believe that every child deserves a great public school.