November 16, 2020
Governor Announces Increased Safety Measures
With the number of COVID cases spiking, Governor Whitmer, using the authority of the Department of Health and Human Services, announced a series of measures for the next three weeks designed to combat the virus’ spread. We should all be limiting in-person contact as much as possible as we try to get the virus under control. The measures touch on a number of areas, including education.
Concerning education, given the greater COVID transmission rates emanating from high schools, colleges and universities they must be virtual through December 8. For K-12 schools, sports and extracurricular activities will be suspended. The schools may stay open to meet basic student needs such as food, internet access, school based health-care, child care and face-to-face instruction for special education and ELL students. Given lower transmission rates and greater need among younger students, whether or not K-8 education is face-to-face, virtual or a hybrid remains the decision of local districts.
We strongly believe that if K-8 schools are open it must be a decision of the school board made in consultation with county health departments, teachers, staff, and parents, and not unilaterally determined. If decisions are being made unilaterally we will recommend that the Governor takes appropriate action to intervene. Of course, if open, every safety protocol must be followed.
If you have a concern about safety issues in your workplace, please work with your local union leadership to contact MIOSHA. The agency has set up a COVID hotline at 1-888-535-6136 and information and online complaint forms can be found here.
We applaud the Governor’s leadership as she continues to take measures to keep us safe. We will continue to advocate for your safety and the safety of our students with the Governor, legislators, the Michigan Department of Education and local districts, colleges and universities.
Governor Appoints Terrence Martin to Black Leadership Advisory Council
Governor Whitmer has appointed Detroit Federation of Teachers President Terrence Martin to the Black Leadership Advisory Council. The Governor initiated the Advisory Council as a diverse group of Black Michiganders to serve in an advisory capacity to the Governor and develop, review and recommend policies and actions designed to prevent and eradicate discrimination and promote racial equity. Terrence will chair the Council’s Education Committee. Congratulations Terrence and thank you for doing this important work.
Taylor Teachers Celebrate their 70th
Today is the 70th anniversary of the Taylor Federation of Teachers being chartered as AFT Local 1085. It has been seventy years on the forefront of the fight for public education, educator rights and benefits, and the trade union movement. In negotiating, political and legislative action, community involvement and so much more, the TFT has been a leader within our state and national federations.
Taylor has never been shy about standing up for what they believe. When they needed to strike, they did. When they needed to go to Lansing to demonstrate against Right-to-Work, they were one of only a few districts where so many members took the day off, the district had to close down.
And I would be remiss if I did not note that Taylor, as it proudly claims on the sign in front of its building, is the home local of former AFT Michigan President Rollie Hopgood, who led the TFT for many years before spending over twenty years at the state federation.
Jill Biden Session with Educators: Tonight at 7pm
Jill Biden, the soon-to-be first lady and a longtime educator, knows how important your work is and how hard you pushed for the Biden-Harris ticket. On behalf of the campaign, she wants to express her personal appreciation. Please join us as she shares a special message of thanks with members of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association on Monday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. EST.
Teaching in the Time of Covid Symposium: Nov. 21
As part of the AFT’s commitment to provide information and resources to help educators meet the needs of students during the pandemic, we are inviting you to the second symposium in a series on Covid-19 and its transmission in schools. This session will focus on advice from practitioners and other experts on how to ensure students are engaged in deep learning – whether in-person, hybrid, or distance learning.
Teaching in the Time of COVID-19: Reassessing How to Keep Students Safe, Well and Engaged. Saturday, November 21, Noon to 2:15pm EST.
David Hecker, President