The April CEA Advisor will soon be in your mailbox and is already available online. Get real-time answers about the pandemic’s immediate and longer-term impact on public education, and see the creative, heartfelt, and inspiring ways your colleagues are adapting to new ways of delivering instruction and connecting with their students.
Below is the column by CEA President Jeff Leake, Vice President Tom Nicholas, and Executive Director Donald Williams that appears on page 2 of the Advisor.
Navigating COVID-19: Stronger Together
These are uncertain times. Unprecedented actions are being taken to prevent the greater spread of COVID-19, the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused major disruptions to our lives, our communities, and the world—the likes of which we have never experienced. We are in uncharted territory, with more questions than answers, leaving us all to do our best to mitigate against the effects of the coronavirus.
First and foremost, our priority is your safety. We must all focus on the public health emergency and do everything we can to prevent the spread of this new disease. We thank you for following the guidelines issued by our state and the Centers for Disease Control, including practicing social distancing. We strongly supported Governor Ned Lamont’s decision to declare a state of emergency in Connecticut, to close all schools, and to urge residents to stay home and stay safe. We continue working together hand in glove with State Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona on issues that impact you and providing you with the most up-to-date information possible.
Uncertainty makes this crisis scarier than others, and there is a palpable sense of panic, helplessness, and danger. The common belief is that things will get worse before they get better, and we need to be prepared for what could be ahead. As educators, we must focus on what we do best: teaching and leading by example. That means following set guidelines, engaging students, and keeping them learning for the duration of this public health emergency. There are still a host of unanswered questions regarding equity issues, lack of access to technology, special education concerns, and so much more. Commissioner Cardona said his department will be flexible, and he urges teachers to do the best they can to provide continuity of education in today’s reality.
Despite these very challenging circumstances, we are proud of you, our exemplary educators. While concerned about your own family members, you are also concerned with your students’ health, access to food, and emotional well-being—and you have not stopped working for your students. You are putting in the extra effort and learning the best online resources and programs available to ensure your students are learning. There are myriad challenges related to distance learning, and we know that teachers must be at the table discussing guidelines, best practices, and accessibility for students across the state. We know whatever happens in the coming weeks will impact the future of public education, and teachers’ voices must be a part of that discussion. CEA has been holding virtual meetings with teachers across the state to discuss best practices for online learning, and we have shared our recommendations with the education commissioner.
Throughout the coming weeks and months, the situation will continue to change. Know that we are here, working on your behalf to ensure that your safety and rights are protected. We will continue to keep you updated and share guidance with you in the days ahead. Watch for emails from CEA and visit cea.org for the latest information.