CEA Media Release: More than 13,000 Educators, Parents and Community Members Demand Educator Voice in School Districts’ Plans for Return to School this Fall

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 21, 2020

CEA Says Nearly 80% of Members Polled Willing to Refuse to Return to Work over Safety Concerns

DENVER –

The Colorado Education Association (CEA) today delivered a petition to Gov. Polis and Colorado Commissioner of Education Katy Anthes, Ph.D., outlining the four expectations that must be met to ensure the safe return to school in the fall. The petition, signed by 13,457 educators, parents and community members, demands educator voice, safety protections, transparency and equity be included in districts’ return to school plans.

“We’ve been clear with our demands to ensure the safety and well-being of students and educators during an eventual return to in-person instruction,” said Amie Baca-Oehlert, a high school counselor and President of CEA. “Educators should be involved not only in the creation and implementation of district plans, but also have the opportunity to vote on those plans.

“In addition to providing personal protective equipment and making sure health protocols are in place, disease data must be made available to all families, staff and community members immediately and consistently,” continued Baca-Oehlert. “And students, staff and families must be provided with equitable access to education, including ensuring school districts have a plan to reach out to our most vulnerable students to ensure their academic needs are being met regardless of where the learning occurs.”

Colorado’s local control public school system results in 178 separate school districts, each making its own individual plans for a return to school in the fall. Currently, there are significant variations among the state’s districts and their return to school plans.

“What we need right now are requirements, not recommendations. The governor, department of education, superintendents and school boards are positioned to guide and provide consistency to school districts to ensure the health and safety of the state’s nearly 914,000 students and more than 55,000 educators,” added Baca-Oehlert.

CEA also made available the results of a member survey conducted last week and completed by nearly 10,000 educators. Seventy-eight percent of respondents indicated they would be willing to join their colleagues in refusing to return to work if health and safety concerns were not addressed and protective measures not implemented.

Other highlights of the survey:  

  •       95% of respondents say educators should vote on districts’ return to school plans
  •       53% want to start the school year 100% remote
  •       8% want to start the school year 100% in person
  •       Fewer than 1/5 of respondents believe districts can keep them safe

“No one wants to return to schools and classrooms more than educators, but the decision to do so must take into account guidance from the state and local health departments as well as the necessary safety precautions,” said John Robinson, a 20-year high school teacher and president of the Poudre Education Association. “If school districts aren’t able to guarantee the health and safety of their students and educators, then we must delay the return to school and continue with distance learning.”

To download the member survey results, visit https://bit.ly/ceabacktoworkreport.

The petition language that was delivered to Gov. Polis and CO Commissioner of Education Katy Anthes Ph.D, and signed by 13,475 is as follows: 

​The Colorado Education Association believes that in-person learning is essential for students and educators and looks forward to returning to school in person this fall as long as districts ensure that the safety and health of all stakeholders are in place. 

To ensure our schools are safe to learn this fall, the following expectations must be met:

  1. Employees voice and safety must drive decision making through honoring bargaining rights or a vote of approval from all employees. 
  2. Safety protections, protocols, and precautions must be provided by our school districts for all students and staff. 
  3. Our community must be provided with transparency and data that has driven the decision making process. 
  4. Equity for students, staff, and families must always be provided, no matter where the learning is occurring.

Signed, 

Our Colorado Community