Like the military students and families they serve, FEA members in many locations have been or soon may be directly impacted by closures, travel restrictions and other irregularities caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. I want to thank all FEA members worldwide for your amazing efforts throughout this situation.
As of this writing, schools in Korea have been shut down for nearly three weeks, yet learning has continued almost without interruption because of the efforts of our members there, who have worked cooperatively with the local DoDEA administration to quickly utilize digital learning resources available to them and, when necessary, learn and deploy new resources to help make sure student learning continues.
This week saw brief closures of the schools at Quantico in Virginia. Those schools have now reopened following cleanings but, of course, all members are reminded to take all possible precautions to remain healthy.
Schools in Italy and Bahrain have also been severely impacted and, although those schools are outside FEA’s Overseas bargaining unit, we stand in solidarity with the educators at those locations as they also strive to continue student learning while also safeguarding the health and safety of all school staff and community members.
It has been stressful to be certain, but I have heard great things from members in the field and from DoDEA parents — as well as from DoDEA management — about the amazing work that has taken place, particularly in South Korea. Our members’ efforts to maintain student learning are absolutely making a difference and are greatly appreciated by the communities they serve.
Thank you once again to all our members for your professionalism and calm in this very difficult situation. Situations such as this one prove beyond any doubt that you are the cornerstone of education in our schools.
It is probably wishful thinking to hope there will be no further closures — whether short term or long term — at any DoDEA locations due to the current pandemic situation. For those looking for online learning resources and options, please check the link below, which provides a comprehensive list of education companies providing free subscriptions during school closures. I’m uncertain who put this list together, and while we are not endorsing these companies, it could prove valuable. List of ed companies providing free subscriptions (Be advised: we have heard DoDEA’s interpretation of federal law may not allow for use of free resources such as these. Please check with your admin before attempting to make use of any resources on this list)
NEA also has put together a lot of useful information about coronavirus and links to outside resources to help explain the situation to your students (and to those of us who are not biology teachers). I encourage members to visit this site and utilize the information it provides, NEA Coronavirus page
Out of an abundance of caution, NEA cancelled several conferences scheduled for this month that would have been attended by FEA members and elected leaders. Those meetings included a leadership summit, the NEA Retired Conference and the Education Support Professionals annual gathering. On behalf of FEA, we thank the members who would have attended these sessions for their willingness to do so and also thank them for their patience and understanding following NEA’s decision to cancel these meetings.
Of course, the health and safety of our members, their students and the military communities we serve is the most important thing right how. Because situations vary so much from country to country and even within each country, we remind our members of the importance of staying up-to-date on announcements, guidance and information from your local Commands. And, like everyone else in recent days, I remind you to take the most basic steps toward protection and containment: regularly washing your hands, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and staying home if you even suspect you may be sick or have been exposed to the virus.