In Blog, Community, Legislative Update

I have heard from so many AFT Michigan members across the state who are rightly concerned about our readiness to open schools this fall.

I hear you. And here is the bottom line.

Schools should only open for in-person instruction if medical and health experts say they are safe. No one should be asked to put their health and possibly life on the line without us covering all our bases—that goes for students and staff.

Preparedness Plans need to be developed in partnerships with educators through your union and community, not prepared unilaterally by administration. Plans must include preparing to meet our students’ instructional needs mainly through distance learning programs should health experts determine schools should not open.

The impact of these plans needs to be collectively bargained–of course in an expedited manner. I appreciate those employers who are working with us, but at the same time I have been appalled at the thinking of others who seem to be acting with little regard for the bigger picture.

When we discuss safety, all aspects of returning to school must be taken into account:  

  • For example, in higher education, the nature of campus life must be taken into account. Some administrators seem to have forgotten what it was like to be 19 years old.
  • In K-12, safety must take into account the condition of buildings and their ventilation systems.

And we have to be ready to adapt to changing public health conditions. Dates on a calendar can always be changed–health and safety have to be the priority.

We have been working closely with the Governor’s office, legislators, the Michigan Department of Education, the MEA, and school management organizations on school reopening issues. We will continue to do so given the fluid nature of the pandemic.

Rest assured, we will do everything in our power to protect your health and safety, and that of our students. We will continue to keep you informed about current developments on reopening issues and policies. We have regular strategic discussions with local leaders to hear their concerns and support your good work at the local level. We take those concerns to the Governor’s office and the Michigan Department of Education. We are working with our attorneys to be prepared to take whatever legal action may be necessary.

Your safety and health, as well as the safety and health of our students and communities, are our number one concern as a union. We will do whatever is necessary to protect it.

Thank you for all that you do, and hang in there. We’ll get through this together.

In solidarity,

David Hecker

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