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FCFT Survey Says: "Concurrent Instruction" is the Worst of Both Worlds

Fairfax County Federation of Teachers

November 12th, 2020

When FCFT union members first heard of the push for "concurrent instruction" in Fairfax County Public Schools - having educators teach students participating both virtually and in-person, at the same time, in the same class - we expressed grave concern over the demands this would place on educators and the impact on students. We said at the time,

FCFT takes a strong stance in opposition to the concurrent teaching model... It is impossible to effectively plan for and teach in two vastly different models of delivery and simultaneously engage students in both settings. This method is not what is best for students... the impossible workload of concurrent teaching is causing teachers across the country to burn out and leave the profession. [10/6/20]

We have since seen the introduction of "pilots" of the concurrent instruction model in schools across Fairfax County. Having surveyed our membership between October 28th and November 11th, we repeat our concern once again. Based on our survey results, FCFT maintains its strong opposition to the concurrent teaching model.

Key Findings: The concurrent instruction pilots are...

  • Worse for Students and Staff: Seven in ten respondents participating in the concurrent pilots do not feel they can successfully meet the needs of all virtual and in-person students. Nearly eight in ten do not feel the same level of classroom community as when classrooms were fully virtual, and a similar number feel they can provide better instruction in a fully-virtual environment.

  • Inequitable: 92.4% reported inequities in instruction between virtual and in-person students, and an equal number reported difficulties balancing students' schedules between the two.

  • Unsafe: During concurrent instruction, seven in ten respondents could not maintain full compliance with COVID safety protocols including masks and physical distancing. 86.6% are not confident that safety issues will be addressed if reported. (FCFT has gathered documentation on safety violations, including known COVID outbreaks, using our safety checklist and tracker.)

  • Under-Trained and Under-Supported: By a massive margin, educators report that they were under-trained on concurrent instruction (81.3%) and that FCPS did not fully assist them in improving the concurrent learning environment to overcome challenges (92.3%)

Key Findings: For those not yet participating, the concurrent model is...

  • Inconsistent and Unclear: Nearly a quarter of respondents shared that their school's plan for virtual instruction differed from the FCPS presentation to the School Board in October.

  • Under-Supported, Under-Planned, Under-Staffed: At the school level, nearly eight in ten respondents have not been trained on, or not been informed of a plan to be trained on, implementing concurrent instruction. Nearly seven in ten have not received, or not been informed of a plan to receive, additional equipment to support the model. 93.6% are unsure whether their school will, or know that their school will not, provide full-time staff to support this model, such as a co-teacher or instructional assistant.

  • Worse than Virtual: Nearly every respondent (95.3%) lacks some level of confidence in the concurrent model's ability to allow them to meet the needs of students, and eight in ten report that virtual instruction provides better quality education for students.

An infographic and full survey results are linked below. These results should worry all who believe in safe, equitable instruction for students. As COVID cases in the concurrent instruction pilot schools continue to pile up, and as COVID cases spike nationwide, we urge FCPS to do the right thing: delay reopening and keep everyone safe.

We encourage all school staff to fill out FCFT's safety checklist and contact us to form a worksite team at your school.

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