72ºF

State teacher’s union calls for consistency, inclusion when schools reopen

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Education Association says reopening schools this fall has to be done safely and fairly.

The state’s largest teacher’s union on Tuesday released its recommendations for local districts that are considering bringing students back to the classroom.

Those guidelines call for Fairness, Consistency and Inclusion across all the school districts in the state.

“Less than three months before the first Florida students are slated to go back into our public schools. This work is more important than ever,” said FEA President Fedrick Ingram.

The plan covers five different subject areas for districts to address.

The first is “Public Health and Safety,” in which the association calls for safe transportation of students with social distancing, -- accurate and efficient testing, -- and sanitizing stations outside each classroom, among other measures.

The second subject is “student success” -- The FEA wants districts to account for the wide range of learning situations for students last semester and in the fall. The association says a hybrid of learning models needs to be used -- such that the lessons are provided regardless of economic, geographic or technological circumstances.

FEA’s third subject area, -- “Social and Emotional well-being,” calls for a boost in funding for mental health, risk assessment and staff support. It suggests more staff be trained and directed to monitor the mental health of students.

The fourth subject in the report is “Safe working and learning conditions,” -- and recommends measures like providing PPE for all students and staff, -- Staggered schedules for teachers and students -- and NOT cutting any employee salaries.

Finally -- “Public School Investments,” -- The FEA recommends waiving school fees and costs that might cut into enrollment. It also calls for more CARES Act funding through a special session of the state legislature -- and pulling all state funding to private schools that don’t follow these same safety guidelines.

“As we reopen schools, let us be safe, let us be healthy, let us understand academic success, let us not forget the most important work -- school must be fun," Ingram said.

The 17-page memo was put together by the FEA’s “Reopening Schools Task Force,” which said that it’s not meant to be static -- but constantly evolving as the COVID-19 situation develops throughout the summer.

Click here to read all of the FEA’s recommendations.