PWCS Educators to Hold ‘Stand with Our Teachers’ Rally

| July 2, 2020 | 0 Comments | Education

Prince William County School teachers and staff who are advocating for educators to play a more central role in planning for school re-openings, have organized the “Stand with Our Teachers,” rally. It is a way to make their voices heard to PWCS leadership and the community.

The flyer reads: “PWCS teachers and staff demand a seat at the table as the division builds their plan to return to school.” 

Attendees will meet on Friday, July 3, at 10 a.m. in front of the Prince William Schools Kelly Leadership Building in Manassas. Educators, parents, supporters or elected officials who share the sentiment are encouraged to participate.

Organizers are instructing all attendees to stay outside the building, wear face masks and practice social distancing. Attendees may bring signs and a message to share. Near the end of the rally there will be open forum during which educators can voice their concerns.

Due to COVID-19 the school year is expected to look very different. Schools could open as normal, remain 100% virtual online learning, or institute a hybrid plan with options for at-home learning. Any decisions made would affect the health of teachers and educators as well as affect their ability to care for their children: similar concerns that parents have regarding their children returning to school. The group is not advocating for one particular plan, only that educators are front and center in any discussions surrounding reopening.

Although not Prince William Education Association organized function, Maggie Hansford, PWCS teacher and President-Elect of the Prince William Educator Association [PWEA] and Oveta Scott, teacher and upcoming PWEA Mobilization Committee Chair, will provide the opening remarks. 

“I am excited to take office on August 1 and hit the ground running,” said Hansford. “For too long teachers have been an afterthought in education planning. During this national pandemic, teacher and staff safety is a crucial element of a safe reopening plan. We are asking that teachers and staff health and safety be a primary consideration as they work to reopen our public schools.” 

Prince William elected officials will be in attendance and may provide remarks. Those who plan on attending include Virginia State Delegates Danica Roem (D-13th District) and Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D- 31st District); Prince William County District Supervisors Kenny Boddye (D-Occoquan), Victor Angry (D-Neabsco) and Margaret Franklin (D-Woodbridge); and PWCS School Board members Justin Wilk (Potomac) and Lisa Zargarpur (Coles ). Press has been invited to attend. 

Diana Gulotta, spokeswoman for Prince William County Schools, said that a 90-person committee on reopening is made up of three subcommittees. The overall Taskforce included principals, assistant principals, directors, supervisors, teachers representing different grade levels and disciplines, technology staff, HR staff and health staff.

“We have reached out to the leadership of the PWEA (president and president-elect) to inform them of where we are so far, and hear their feedback. In addition, PWEA completed a survey and has given us those result to help inform development of the return to new learning plan,” Gulotta said.

She said PWCS also held a school-based employee survey and a parent survey. “An additional employee survey is planned.”

Prince William County School Board will virtually hold special meeting July 7 to hear input from citizens, educators and others on the reopening of schools.  A school board work session is planned for July 8, and the board is schedule to vote on a reopening plan on July 15. 

Fairfax County Public Schools has announced a staggered schedule by which students would attend school only two days a week for in-person learning, or learn virtually at home. In response, the Fairfax Educational Associational has recommended that all teachers choose the virtual option, which could disrupt implementation of the hybrid plan.

© 2020, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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