Updated: Oct 7, 2020
Fairfax County Federation of Teachers
October 6th, 2020
As FCPS leadership plans to reopen our school buildings, an important voice has been left out of the conversation: that of the staff members tasked with making it a reality. FCPS staff members, overworked and under immense pressure, are overwhelmingly uncomfortable with returning for in-person instruction given the incomplete information about implementation that FCPS has shared to date.
FCFT is releasing the results today of three member surveys that were conducted about member feedback with the FCPS return to school survey, workload and planning time. The data speak loud and clear about the unsustainability of current workload and staff’s lack of confidence in the reopening plan.
85.7% of respondents are not confident in the current reopening plan; only 9.7% feel safe returning.
52.9% of respondents are considering whether to take a leave of absence or resign if asked to return to work in person.
Respondents cited unsafe workplaces, incomplete information, poor communication and lack of transparency as reasons.
Almost every single teacher in the county is working beyond their contract hours to finish their required work. 98.7% of teachers and 65.5% of support staff worked beyond contract hours the second week of school.
22.7% of teachers and 9% of support staff reported working more than 20 hours per week outside of contract hours.
Almost half of teachers have less than the minimum planning time required by the county.
Over 80% of teachers and a majority of staff report that workload is impacting their sleep, physical health, and mental health. Nearly 3 in 4 teachers report missing meals for workload reasons.
In addition to lack of details in the county's reopening plan, our members are concerned with the lack of transparency from FCPS about COVID-19 cases that have already occurred in our school buildings. The lack of a clear answer about positive cases during summer childcare activities, and vague allusions to cases that have occurred in the first 2 weeks, do not inspire confidence that staff will receive critical information about the safety of their workplace. FCPS is not following Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) guidance that establishes clear guidelines for reporting cases and exposures in schools.
The current reopening plan is setting up school-based staff for failure, because many of the details of the plan have not been decided and communicated to staff, and feedback from classroom staff is not included. The details are the difference between a safe and unsafe school environment. FCPS cannot afford to ignore the red flags raised in this report.
Based on the survey findings, we are urging FCPS to take a number of steps including:
Regardless of whether staff are working virtually or in person, FCPS leadership must address the lack of planning time and provide more time during the workday for staff to complete the duties of their jobs.
Honor all staff ADA accommodation requests to work 100% virtually, regardless of position.
Postpone opening school buildings for in-person instruction until we have well-documented numerical metrics supporting the decision and FCPS can confirm that all of the safety guidelines laid out in FCFT’s 11 Pillars of a Safe Reopening are met.
Use our hashtag: #OpenSlowOpenSafe
Read the full report below: