Teachers union speaks out after school board meeting

The D51 teachers union spoke out for the first time Wednesday.
The D51 teachers union spoke out for the first time Wednesday.(Jason Burger)
Published: Jul. 29, 2020 at 10:50 PM MDT|Updated: Jul. 30, 2020 at 9:25 AM MDT
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The D51 teachers union spoke out for the first time Wednesday.

They acknowledged that there is no perfect plan for a school year during a pandemic, but they do have some concerns.

“One of the things that I think people are very concerned about is, will we create an environment that is so alien, that the kids aren’t comfortable enough to focus on learning,” said MVEA President, Rick Peterson.

The Mesa Valley Education Association spoke out after the long-anticipated school board meeting Tuesday night.

The big question, can schools be ready to safely open by August 17th?

“As the superintendent said there’s some equipment that might be on back-order. Trying to get that done by the 17th is optimistic,” Peterson said.

On top of cohorting, mask enforcement, and social distancing in schools, teachers are faced with implementing new curriculum, the byproduct of a 2017 bond measure.

“The workload last year was exacerbated because we had new curriculum to put into place. We are continuing that process this year,” Peterson said.

A school board member has emphasized that schools should not open if they don’t have the supplies they need or they don’t feel ready, an idea teachers support.

“Physicians, pediatricians, and the CDC all saying this is OK. You can create a plan of action,” said D51 Superintendent Diana Sirko.

While Superintendent Sirko acknowledges teachers’ concerns, she cites academic proficiency data as a reason to get kids in classrooms.

“50 percent across the country, and we’ll see that in our own system in mathematics, and a 30 percent proficiency slide in reading. That’s simply not something that we can pound on, and we don’t want to triple or double that in a year,” Sirko said.

And there’s still the possibility the COVID situation could escalate. “We do know there’s a possibility that we could move in and out of face to face learning,” Sirko said.

The union also mentioned there’s some frustration from parents on plans for individual schools, but that will have to be done by each school’s principal, and those plans haven’t been released.

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