Jane Loggins – FEA Director for DDESS
Ben Hunter – FEA-SR General Counsel
Angelia Stubbs – FEA-SR General Counsel
We are living in challenging times. Stateside educators have faced so much in the last year. Now, we are facing another confusing and frightening time. As our nation struggles to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers and ESP’s will continue to do all they can to support our schools and students. Also, just as important, we must also focus on our own families and ourselves to get through this crisis.
We look to DoDEA leadership for thoughtful guidance that will move us forward. We seek clear information from DoDEA but that is often not what we receive from our school system. We seem to receive misinformation or knee jerk reactions to situations such as the COVID-19. This causes even more stress in our schools. Situations change rapidly and flexibility is important. We need DoDEA leadership to listen and understand our voices of concern. Misinformation and lack of communication is not advantageous during a crisis.
If a need arises for DoDEA schools to close due to the COVID-19 virus, DoDEA leadership is making plans for teachers to attempt to continue instruction virtually using the Google Classroom. If schools close for students, we believe it is the expectation of DoDEA that teachers will continue to report to schools to teach virtually from unoccupied classrooms. Teachers are just now receiving an initial overview of this platform. FEA SR was informed late last night that teachers were going to be trained on the Google Classroom. FEA SR has no agreement on this training or use of the Google Classroom for virtual instruction.
Stateside educators are focused on the health and safety of our students, families and communities. We hope that our school environment and instruction can remain consistent, however, that may not be possible if schools close due to the current health risk. DoDEA’s plan to have teachers remain at school undertaking virtual instruction for students who are at home will not provide children with equitable access to the curriculum. Many students do not have the personal technology devises to work in the virtual setting.
FEA SR is very concerned about the risk teachers will face if they are forced to teach virtually from on-site locations where schools are closed for students. Gathering our educators at a worksite to teach virtually exposes each of them to the possible spread of the coronavirus. Public schools are closing. State and local leadership are asking people to stay at home, yet DoDEA will expect teachers to come into a closed school with no students to provide virtual learning. The agency has a responsibility to all DoDEA employees, to keep them safe and provide healthy working environment while also protecting the community and general public from the spread of COVID-19. If schools are closed to students, educators should be able to stay home as well. Fort Knox schools are closed for students but teachers are to continue to report.
FEA SR will share all information received from DoDEA regarding plans for school closures, virtual learning, health and safety procedures, and any other information that DoDEA shares. Clear communication is important during this difficult time.