Dear fellow members,

A short while ago, Gov. Phil Scott ordered the closure of Vermont schools for the remainder of the school year. While we are disappointed and saddened, we understand the fierce urgency of maintaining the health and safety of all our students, educators, school administrators, parents, and all Vermonters.

In the 10 days since schools have been closed to students, we have seen the remarkable resiliency, ingenuity, and dedication of this state’s teachers, paraeducators, custodians, school nurses, food service workers, bus drivers, and administrators. We have also seen how patient, understanding, and forgiving parents have been. Most of all, we’ve seen our students, thrust into a world like they’ve never experienced, adapt and survive in remarkable ways.

In the days ahead, the members of Vermont-NEA will be dedicated to working with administrators, superintendents, Agency of Education officials, and state government to work out how best to continue teaching and learning in a meaningful way. We know all Vermonters share our view that students – our precious children – are our number one priority.

At the same time, we are guided by three important principles. The health and safety of students, parents, educators, and all Vermonters must guide all of our decisions during the pandemic. Next, nutritious food must continue to be available for all children who need it. And, third, school employees must not suffer financial ruin and missed paychecks.

There are many questions that need to be tackled as we prepare for the orderly closure of our schools, and rest assured there is no fiercer advocate for students – and educators – than the members of Vermont-NEA.

At a time like this, it is important to remember that we would all much rather be in school, especially at a time of year filled with so much anticipation for the future. I think a note from a fellow teacher says it all: “I miss my students. I miss them walking in my room all grumpy and coaxing a smile out of them and I miss them walking into my classroom beaming with some great news or amazing accomplishment. I think that’s the hardest part of this. I miss my students.”

In solidarity,

Don Tinney

Vermont-NEA President

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