100% in-person learning poses an unsafe work environment

Lake Howell High School Physics Room (Image Credit: Steevven1 / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0))

Collective action by teachers’ unions is needed to protect teachers, students, and the community at large.

I’ve had my disagreements with unions in the past, and I don’t always agree with unions even now. But if you look at the history of unions, they came about specifically to protect workers from unsafe working conditions. Conditions that were crowded, unsanitary, and dangerous to life and limb.

Conditions like those being created by the COVID-19 pandemic today.

In Colorado, many school districts are still planning to go to 100% in-person learning even though COVID cases are rising rapidly, hospitalizations are up, and deaths will inevitably follow. The protective measures in my local school district, JeffCo Schools, may be the best the district can provide, but they remain woefully inadequate at best. As such, teachers are being asked to potentially martyr themselves for their students and for parents.

This is not fair. This is not right. This is not moral.

What this is, in my opinion, is a time for collective action. Whether that’s a strike or some other form of action is outside my expertise, but by demanding that districts take the virus more seriously before they’ll return to their physical classrooms, teachers can protect not just themselves, but their students and the community at large.

After all, schools are petri dishes at the best of times, and these are not the best of times.

Part of me hopes that the Governor will order schools closed until the latest surge is quelled. This will force the hand of district administrators statewide without requiring teachers to strike. But if he doesn’t, I think the teachers unions have to take a stand. This, right here, is why unions exist.

[Originally published as a public post on my personal Facebook.]

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