Fellow members,

As we continue to adjust to life in these unprecedented times, I want to take a moment and give you an update on the call for educators to provide childcare to the children of firefighters, nurses, police officers, and other essential workers. According to reformed guidance to schools, the governor made it clear that all childcare assignments will be voluntary.

Throughout this growing crisis, we have been guided by three priorities: the health and safety of our students, our schools, our communities, and, of course, each other; continued access to fresh food for those children who need it; and financial security – and no lost paychecks – for school employees.

By ensuring the voluntary nature of the childcare program, the state is respecting the many educators who may be anxious or concerned about their safety. I appreciate Education Secretary Dan French making it explicit in Wednesday’s press conference that school employees with underlying health conditions cannot be required to be in a public school building if it threatens their health and well-being. Alternative worksite arrangements can be made for those employees as they continue to help meet student needs within their community.

For those who do answer their superintendent’s call to provide childcare, rest assured that we will ensure all applicable and appropriate safety measures are to be followed. (You can see safety protocols from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration here.)

I know many of you are eager to help our students and fellow working families during this growing pandemic – as long as it is safe for you to do so. I also know that many of you have already volunteered and have been involved with planning meetings with your local administrations. Keep up those herculean efforts! 

To that end, I’d like you to take a quick survey to let us know if you’d volunteer for childcare assignments. Participating in this survey doesn’t commit you to anything, but it will help us gauge your desire to provide childcare services for other essential workers. You can take the survey right here.

In closing, I want to again commend you for how dedicated you continue to be to your schools, your communities, your colleagues, and, above all else, your students – they continue to be able to depend on you, even away from school.

Remember, we’ll keep you up-to-date with new developments as they happen. Take care of yourselves – and each other. And remember, we’re in this together as educators and Vermonters.

In solidarity,

Don Tinney

Vermont-NEA President

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