Fellow members,

Last night you were probably as surprised – and shocked – as I was to read about the governor’s order enlisting educators to provide childcare for the children of nurses, firefighters, public health employees and others who are the front line of the pandemic response. While we agree that all of us have a role to play in these trying times, the governor’s decision to not involve us in these discussions was ill-advised and seriously disappointing.

As educators, you are used to rising above and beyond in the service of Vermont’s children. That said, we must be at the table to ensure that any path toward educators’ providing childcare in our school buildings must ensure the safety and health of children and of educators willing to participate. We must be part of the team that develops any such program.

We have told the governor’s office this morning that we have a team ready to talk that includes two UniServ Directors, a member-leader, our executive director, our legal counsel and me. Our team’s goal is to insist that this program be completely voluntary, that it respects the latest health and safety protocols defined by health experts, and that preserves our members’ financial security during school closures.

I will update you later today, but I wanted you to know that nothing is more important than the health and safety of you and your colleagues, your families, and, of course, your students. Together, we can all work together as we weather this unprecedented health emergency.

In solidarity,

Don Tinney

Vermont-NEA President

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