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YS teachers union seeks “100% virtual” learning for school restart

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As Yellow Springs School district leaders consider what educational approach to take when the 2020–21 academic year begins Aug. 27, the local teachers union says the risks of returning to the classroom amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic are too great, and is calling for “100% virtual” learning when school resumes.

A survey letter from Superintendent Terri Holden, sent to families Monday, July 13, said that the district is looking to decide between two basic plans. The first would give families the choice between either a hybrid learning option, which would combine in-person and online instruction, or an all-online option provided by a contracted third-party service. The second would have all students being taught online by Yellow Springs teachers.

Holden is planning to host a virtual town hall meeting Monday, July 20, at 6 p.m., to answer questions about the options under consideration. Families have been asked to pick which they prefer by 5 p.m. Friday, July 24. Community members can watch the meeting here: Questions will be answered through the YouTube Live Chat feature, or families can submit questions in advance here:

The Yellow Springs Education Association, the union that represents local teachers, sent a letter to the superintendent and school board on Tuesday, July 14, outlining their position favoring the all-online option. The letter was signed by YSEA co-presidents Sarah Amin and Kate Lohmeyer.

The contents of the letter are below:

To the Yellow Springs Board of Education and Dr. Terri Holden,

On a national level, the conversation around the reopening of public education has been confusing and contradictory; chaotic at best. To educators of the Yellow Springs community the path moving forward is clear. The continued rise of COVID-19 in surrounding communities, within our region, state, nation, and global world demands we take great pause. This illness is airborne and highly contagious, especially indoors. It is unsafe for our school community to be gathering indoors in groups in any location, however, it is particularly unsafe to do so in Yellow Springs Schools’ facilities without proper air ventilation.The reassessment of our intent to reopen schools in a way that protects the health and safety of our educators, students, and community is of the utmost importance.

Yellow Springs educators have been silent. It is time for us to share our unified voice. The Yellow Springs Education Association (YSEA) stands united in the belief that a 100% virtual option for our community is the only solution to begin the school year. The variables and risks that present themselves in our current climate indicate that it is not the time to return to in-person education experiences with our students. As the Association we are proudly voicing our stance that the lives of students, educators and our community matter above all other considerations.

According to the CDC the lowest possible risk to students, educators, and families is a virtual learning plan. At this point in our global crisis there are too many unknown factors about the true impacts both in the short, and long-term, of COVID-19. As our Association and school district continue to gather additional information regarding health and safety, we hope to move toward in-person experiences when the data and evidence strongly support it is safe to do so.

Included in conversations about how we can safely re-open our school buildings, YSEA is committed to leaning-in to larger conversations about the roles that public education serves in our society. Through our experiences in the spring we identified a vast array of needs surrounding special populations within our school community, access and availability for all students, and the sensitivity surrounding the burden this decision places on parents and families. Together we can thoughtfully design a plan that considers broader, comprehensive measures to address the inequities we face in a virtual learning community. Additionally, we now have time to adequately prepare educators to implement a more rigorous and streamlined academic curriculum. Engaging in this dialogue together allows us to address the immediate concerns that face our district today, and highlights the imperative need to continue to build conversation around broader issues surrounding public education as a larger system.

The time is now. Each day that passes puts the development of a collaborative, comprehensive plan at risk. We are strongly advocating for re-opening our schools with 100% virtual learning. Our collective hope is to return to in-person and face-to-face learning when health and safety issues can be addressed sufficiently, and with the highest levels of care. YSEA is ready and willing to engage collaboratively with Yellow Springs administration, the Board of Education, and the broader Yellow Springs community.

Yours in Education,

Sarah Amin, YSEA Co-President

Kate Lohmeyer, YSEA Co-President

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One Response to “YS teachers union seeks “100% virtual” learning for school restart”

  1. RoseMurphyMorganStowe says:

    “…the lives of students, educators and our community matter above all other considerations” ~ you wouldn’t be teaching students anything worth learning, if you don’t teach them that much by example. Thank you!

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