A trying winter, a hopeful spring

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President's Column

#MaskUp for a school year like no other

There’s no doubt that this school year is starting out like no other any of us have ever seen.

Some of you are engaged in entirely online or remote instruction. Others are back to school five days a week with a variety of new safety precautions in place. Still others are teaching students in person half the week and online the other half to maintain social distance in your school buildings.

Many of you feel uncertain and anxious about this school year. All of you are committed to keeping everyone in our schools safe.

I want you to know that I have heard you and that your voice matters. Your words and your advocacy have driven my work and the work of PSEA. Every time I speak to a journalist or a policymaker, a parent or community leader, I tell them that you missed being with your students and couldn’t wait to be back with them to guide their education forward.

I also make it crystal clear that we can only open our school buildings for in-person instruction if it is safe for you, your students, and your families. There is no compromising that.

With you behind us, your PSEA leaders spent months encouraging state officials to provide schools with a roadmap to this most unusual school year. And thanks to our work, the state departments of

Health and Education have released guidance for school districts that, among other things, emphasizes:
• The necessity of wearing face coverings, including masks or face shields, to prevent the spread of the virus;
• The need for social distancing in our schools;
• Science-based metrics for determining when it’s safe to hold in-person instruction and when online only or a blended approach is needed; and
• Procedures informed by health experts for responding to COVID-19 exposures that occur at school.

Now, PSEA is telling every school to follow these rules. They exist to reduce health risks for everyone. Following them will ensure that you and your students stay safe during the school day and that we slow the spread of this terrible virus.

As you settle into this school year like no other, I want to thank you for everything that you are doing for your students and for each other. And I want to let you know that PSEA is fighting for you and speaking out for you at every opportunity.

PSEA is going to do everything possible to make sure that school and state leaders follow good data and the advice of experts because that is what will keep you, your students, and everyone’s families safe.

You are public education’s most important resource. And I’ll never, ever forget that.

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