As results from CEA’s Equity Survey show, many teachers have concerns about how their district is protecting students and teachers during the pandemic. Some teachers are worried about voicing their concerns publicly, which is why CEA is setting up private, virtual meetings between CEA members and their legislators.
CEA officers and staff share your concerns with state policymakers every day, but legislators want to hear from their constituents first and foremost.
Please talk to your local leaders about setting up a virtual, back home meeting with your legislators to share what is happening in your district. Nearly 4,000 CEA members have contacted the governor and legislators in recent weeks, and it’s vital you share what is happening in schools with your elected officials.
Some of the concerns teachers who live in Eastern Connecticut expressed to State Representatives Christine Palm and Devin Carney during a recent virtual back home meeting included
- Teachers being forced to use sick time or unpaid leave when required to quarantine after possible exposure to COVID-19 at school
- Districts that have made no effort to accommodate teachers at high risk of complications from COVID
- Lack of adequate PPE and disinfecting supplies
- The challenge of trying to meet the needs of remote and in-person learners simultaneously
- Poor communication from districts around COVID cases and contact tracing
- The need for students and teachers to have better access to COVID tests
One teacher reported that her school is scheduled to move to full in-person teaching after following a hybrid model so far this year, but teachers have received very little information about how that will work. “A letter went out to parents yesterday, but teachers never got it,” she said, adding, “We’ve received no technical help whatsoever with learning to live stream lessons.”
Another teacher, who says he’s usually the one other teachers come to for computer support, said he has never experienced anything like having to teach in a hybrid classroom. “I feel like a brand new teacher again, like we’re building a plane while flying it. I had to spend a fair amount of money out of pocket just to get ready to teach the way we are now expected to.”
Other comments from teachers included,
“In an elementary school, teaching remote and in-person learners simultaneously is horrific. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my long teaching career. It’s the thing that will drive me to retirement even though I love my job. The expectations districts are placing on teachers are far too much.”
“In my district we’re not allowed to bring in our own disinfecting supplies. I requested more hand sanitizer, and it took two weeks to arrive.”
“As a music teacher, I go into all of the elementary school classrooms. I’ve lost confidence that I would be notified about a positive case in a class. It might not be my classroom, but I’m in it twice a week.”
“I have colleagues who are teaching remotely right now who are being told that, when we resume full in-person teaching, they’ll need to either come back to work, even though they have a doctor’s note saying they shouldn’t be in the building, or take unpaid leave. If they take unpaid leave, they’ll also lose their health insurance, which seems awfully cruel and unusual. Lots of these teachers have dedicated their careers to our community.”
Rep. Palm said that hearing from teachers in virtual forums like the one facilitated by CEA are very important since legislators can’t hold public hearings as they normally do.
“It’s my personal feeling that we’re rushing back to reopening schools,” she said. “Please don’t feel as though you’re not being heard… I can promise you that I’m taking copious notes.”
Rep. Carney told the teachers that hearing from them was extremely helpful and gives him direction as to what he can say to the governor and commissioner. “This is uncharted territory with the governor right now since we’re not in session.”
He urged his constituents to keep in touch and pass his contact information on to their colleagues. “It sounds like there is so little communication and collaboration at the top levels, and we certainly need to fix that as soon as humanly possible.”
“Thank you for hearing us,” a teacher said. “We are stressed and worried and working like crazy to make this work for the kids.”
Contact your local association leaders to set up a meeting with your legislators.