Ark. teachers group calls for virtual start of school year

Ark. teachers group calls for virtual start of school year
A professional organization for Arkansas teachers says it is “unsafe for schools to return to in-person learning,” and recommends a virtual start of the school year. (Source: WAFB)

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - A professional organization for Arkansas teachers says it is “unsafe for schools to return to in-person learning,” and recommends a virtual start of the school year.

Carol Fleming, president of the Arkansas Education Association, asked state lawmakers on Monday to “make a conscientious decision to keep children, educators, and our communities safe by beginning the 20-21 school year with virtual-only instruction,” according to a news release from the AEA.

Fleming made the remarks to the Education Caucus of the Arkansas General Assembly.

She also shared a set of principles and guidelines the AEA’s Return to Learn Committee created to help guide decisions about the coming school year.

The committee is comprised of educators from across the state who sought guidance from health professionals to create the “School Reopening Matrix.”

“While we agree in-person education is the best thing for students, moving kids and educators in and out of school based on isolation and quarantine protocols will be too risky and too disruptive to the teaching and learning environment,” Fleming said. “Let’s work together to maximize the next two weeks to ensure that we keep students and educators safe and prepare for a new way to deliver education and support until we can get this virus under control.”

While she believes in-person learning remains the best and most stable course of action for students, she believes it shouldn't happen until it's safe for everyone involved.

“We’re not there, it’s not safe, and we have to look at it from district by district, community by community, and the thing about this virus,” Fleming said. “It does not respect or recognize the boundaries of school districts or communities.”

Fleming also wants others to speak up and raise their concerns over the issue.

She calls it an all hands on deck situation and is calling for community members, parents, and stakeholders to speak up.

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