As students and families prepare to go back to school this fall around the country there is much uncertainty surrounding back-to-school during the COVID pandemic.
Across the nation, different school districts are adopting different plans on how to go back to school. Some schools will resume in-person learning, some schools will continue distance learning via the internet, and others will do a combination of the two. Unfortunately, while students and families prepare to go to school, teachers’ unions across the county are making plans to keep schools closed. In Arizona, teachers conducted a “sick out” where so many teachers called in sick that the district had to cancel their back-to-school plans. The teachers union is Detroit, MI have already planned a strike to ensure their schools remain closed.
Locally, Minnesota teachers and teachers’ unions participated in a “national day of action” on August 3rd to demand a “safe” reopening of schools, among other things. We have heard that local northland teachers’ unions are secretly threatening their districts with a strike if their demands related to COVID are not met.
Administrators from the districts involved shared their concerns with the condition of anonymity because they were not at liberty to speak to the press about this issue. Teachers’ unions have waited until the last hour to bring wild demands to their administrations to stop the schools from reopening to in-person learning.
Rather than reopening for students to learn and parents to work, the northland teachers’ unions would prefer students return to distance learning or simply not reopen until it is “safe” to do so. Of course, they demand that no matter what happens their members should be paid their full salaries. With just weeks left before school opens, the unions submitted questions to their administrators, demanding answers and threatening a strike if the answers from administrators are not satisfactory. Rather than reading their school’s plans for re-opening and evaluating if it meets the state department of health, education, or CDC guidelines, the teachers’ unions have taken it upon themselves to determine the conditions under which schools should reopen.
Families have been preparing for this moment for months and instead of elected representatives on school boards using science and guidelines to plan reopening, the teachers’ unions want to be the deciders on what happens this fall. The Minnesota Department of Health, the Department of Education, the Centers for Disease Control, and the American Pediatric Association have all stated that a return to in-person learning is not only safe but in the best interest of all children.
What reason could the teachers’ unions have to close schools, other than their own self-interests? Teachers’ unions can no longer say they make education a top priority when they put their members’ fears over the needs and education of their students. Readers should be prepared for drastic changes to their schools reopening plans if the unions get their way, or worse be prepared for schools to not open at all if the unions don’t get their way. Either way, it’s going to be a lose-lose for students and their families.
At the time of publication, Hermantown schools have already changed their mind about how they’re reopening. It’s anyone’s guess which northland school is next.