Educator Effectiveness, Instructional Hours Waivers Announced
Our top priority is to keep our students and educators safely learning in their classrooms – and Wisconsin has the tools to make that possible. That’s why our union is urging education leaders to work collaboratively with educators to ensure the use of every proven safety measure possible like vaccinations, masks, “test to stay” and proper ventilation.
At the start of this school year, WEAC released our Safe and Healthy Schools Plan, with a clear call for vaccinations and boosters for all who are eligible, ensuring masks in schools, bringing local unions into school decision-making and expanding access to testing to keep in-person learning happening. Our union continues to advocate for these measures with state officials and district administrators’ groups, including sending a letter just before the start of the New Year to the state superintendent and governor calling for a series of measures to give some relief to our members including waivers on Educator Effectiveness and requirements for instructional hours, nurses in every school, remote learning until the end of the quarter so safety measures can be implemented and including local unions in school decision-making.
State officials have indicated they support the following measures advocated by WEAC to provide some measure of relief to educators:
- Waiver of instructional hours. Districts will have the option to apply for waivers to meet the required number of instructional hours for the school year. This gives districts the opportunity more successfully transition between in-person and virtual instruction by providing the necessary time to ensure time to deep clean schools, convert lessons to on-line or in-person with the necessary technology and make sure other resources are in place.
- Waiver of Educator Effectiveness. Districts have the ability to apply for waivers for EE requirements, as it is impossible for educators to fulfill all EE requirements when moving between on-line and in-person learning, along with the high rates of absenteeism and substitute teaching circumstances.
- Nurses in every school. WEAC has long called for nursing services in all schools, and the state education and health departments are collaborating to bolster student access to health care by providing funding to support school nursing programs. The health department has hired a school health liaison position to coordinate and support nursing services.
- Masks in all schools. State health and education officials are supporting universal masking for all students and staff to support continued in-person learning.
- In-school testing. Wisconsin has received federal funding to support school-based COVID-19 testing for teachers, staff, students and their families for the 2021-2022 school year to provide safe and healthy learning environments. Districts can participate in this program right now.
“Educators have shown up every day the past two years, adapting and innovating how we teach and interact with our students,” WEAC President Peggy Wirtz-Olsen said. “Educators need support and infrastructure improvements to continue. The number of educators who are now sick from the rapid rise of Omicron is exacerbating critical shortages and many schools do not have enough adults to safely operate buildings for in person learning.”