WEAC Calls on Governor, State Superintendent for Pandemic Solutions Going into 2022
As Wisconsin educators prepare for continuation of the school year during mounting pandemic concerns, WEAC issued a letter to the governor and state superintendent of schools urging a series of actions to provide solutions. In a letter to both officials, WEAC said:
These are trying and stressful times for public employees working in Wisconsin’s public schools. As you are aware, the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is a real threat to public health and the safety of our students, staff, and communities. Our hospitals in Wisconsin are at or beyond capacity, and the number of cases of COVID-19 is higher than at any time during the pandemic, with scientists and experts predicting the largest surge we have seen in the coming weeks. WEAC calls on the Office of the Governor and the Department of Public Instruction to consider the following and implement solutions that bring relief for both public employees and all citizens of Wisconsin:
Issue a Statewide Waiver of Instructional Hours. Keeping students and staff healthy and safe in a pandemic ought to be a state priority. We recognize that virtual learning plans some districts may attempt to implement vary in quality and have the potential to create access issues for all students, particularly those affected by poverty or in rural communities.
Pause the Educator Effectiveness System. Educator Effectiveness is highly dependent on student attendance. The pandemic is causing attendance disruptions that make it increasingly difficult for teachers to collect data related to Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) through the formative assessment methods designed in the fall of 2021. All 2021-2022 SLO data will be invalid due to interruptions of instruction and will not be a valid measure to evaluate teachers.
Call for Nurses in Schools. Implement the recommendation of The American Academy of Pediatrics. There should be a full-time nurse in every Wisconsin Public School.
Move Instruction for Schools to Virtual until the End of Quarter 2. Keeping some schools open while many are closed communicates a mixed message to residents and jeopardizes the containment of the virus.
Keep the Union at the Table. WEAC is a key partner to the Department of Public Instruction and the Office of the Governor on educational issues. We bring solutions to the table. WEAC leadership should continue to be involved in deliberations and decision-making as it relates to Wisconsin’s Public Schools, particularly in this time of crisis.
We wish to express our deepest appreciation for the support that we have received around WEAC’s Safe and Healthy Schools Plan, which identifies use of masks in all school buildings and use of vaccinations for all eligible as methods to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Wisconsin educators also commend your efforts to direct essential pandemic relief funding to meet student academic and mental health needs, retain staff and keep schools safe.
As Wisconsinites, we are all in this together. Wisconsin has a rich history of excellent public schools, a direct result of the quality of its workforce. As key decisions are made by local and state officials this winter and spring, it remains critical that educators’ voices are heard. We recognize that the students and families that we serve are counting on us to lead courageously.