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UCTA To Request that School Begin with Distance Learning; Board to Decide Monday, Aug. 10


Posted Date: 08/10/2020

UCTA To Request that School Begin with Distance Learning; Board to Decide Monday, Aug. 10

The Union Classroom Teachers Association plans to request that the Board of Education vote, on Monday night, to start the school year with distance learning on August 24.

Official Statement of the UCTA

The Union Classroom Teachers Association has released the following statement:

Teachers association to support distance learning based on survey

The Union Classroom Teachers Association will support Superintendent Kirt Hartzler’s recommendation to start the school year through distance learning at the Board of Education meeting Monday night, based on results of a member survey.

The Association announced this afternoon the results of a member survey that was conducted to garner up-to-date dispositions regarding the reopening of schools.

“This survey clarifies information that was previously gathered by a July district survey,” President Deena Churchill said. “In July, nearly 70 percent of teachers reported to the district they want to return to school in person. What the survey did not address was whether teachers’ decisions would be impacted by a continuing rise in COVID-19 numbers within the district in the interim.”

Results of the most recent Association survey show that 69 percent of members do not feel safe returning to face-to-face learning on August 24. In addition, 69 percent of members support starting via distance learning on August 24. When asked about members’ level of anxiety about returning in person, 86 percent of members reported a medium to high anxiety level. Lastly, 50 percent of members said their mental and emotional health regarding in-person learning was low to very low. The survey had over 300 respondents, representing one-third of Union’s total teaching staff.

“As representatives of our members on the district Re-entry Task Force, we received hundreds of emails from teachers who expressed fears about returning in person,” Churchill said. “While we realize we have members who support a return to in-person learning, it is our duty to support the majority of our members.”

“It is our privilege to advocate for the wishes of our members and support Dr. Hartzler in his recommendation to the Board to start the year via distance learning.”

The Union Classroom Teachers Association is the official bargaining unit for teachers at Union Public Schools. The Association represents teachers’ interests on numerous committees throughout the district, including the Re-entry Task Force.


 

Following is the lettter by UCTA President Denna Churchill

To inform members, following is what I sent to the Board this afternoon.

Teachers absolutely want to be with their students, as evidenced by the district’s earlier survey. Teachers responded, by an overwhelming majority, they wanted to teach in-person, rather than virtual. I have also found, through communicating with those teachers who requested virtual, they too would prefer to be with their students. However, circumstances exist for them which make in-person learning too risky, either for themselves or their family members. Unfortunately, I fear this response to in-person teaching may be misinterpreted as the belief teachers’ opinions regarding the return to in-person is a safe alternative on August 24. When in actuality, what it means is, when it IS safe to return, we want to do so with in-person learning.

I have communicated with so many teachers in the last few weeks, and in every instance, they have expressed their fears about returning to in-person learning on August 24. I have never encountered such crushing anxiety and terror among such a large group of people. I know it sounds over the top to use the word “terror” but that is what I have experienced from our teachers. Many teachers have expressed to me they are considering quitting if we return to in-person. Others, for whom quitting is not an option, are devastated at the thought. They talk about dying or bringing something home to their family and family members dying. They feel caught in an untenable cycle from which there is no relief. It is beyond upsetting to hear their tears and fears over this. Based upon the communications I have had with teachers, I am requesting the Board vote, on Monday night, to start the school year with distance learning on August 24.
-Deena Churchill

 

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