SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Education Association (UEA) has called on Gov. Gary Herbert, the State Board of Education and COVID-19-impacted districts to delay the return to public schools in grades K-12.
Instead, UEA President Heidi Matthews asked that schools temporarily resume distance learning at least for the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.
The reason, Matthews said, is clear. She cited Utah’s growing number of positive COVID-19 cases and says that the choice to return to classrooms is no longer an option.
“The reality is that, with few exceptions, we are nowhere near containing the spread of this virus,” Matthews said.
Matthews said that current district plans can’t ensure the health and safety of students, educators and families. She sees particular concern in those Utah communities where coronavirus continues to spread.
Plans to return to school should be created by educators, Matthews said. “Educators have extensive expertise in teaching and supporting students, and they must be front and center by fully participating in decision-making and implementation.”
The decision to return to in-person learning, Matthews said, should be guided by principles of health expertise, educator voice, access to protection and training, and an understanding that the coronavirus pandemic has not impacted all communities equally.
The UEA represents approximately 18,000 public school teachers and administrators in Utah and advocates for them on a local, state, and nationwide basis. This includes legal representation and the negotiation of teacher contracts.
The Utah Education Association will host a forum for Utah educators Tuesday on its Facebook page.
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