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Teachers union in Virginia's largest county calls for virtual classes through end of school year

The Hill logo The Hill 10/20/2020 Jordan Williams
a room filled with furniture and a table: Teachers union in Virginia's largest county calls for virtual classes through end of school year © Provided by The Hill Teachers union in Virginia's largest county calls for virtual classes through end of school year

A teacher's union in one of Virginia's largest counties called for classes to be held virtually for the remainder of the school year.

In a letter to the Fairfax County School Board and superintendent, the Fairfax Educators Association (FEA) asked the county to "draw and hold the line" by keeping the county's school virtual for the rest of the 2020-2021 academic year.

The union, which represents about 4,000 Fairfax County public school employees, says no one should return to in-person classes until "‚Äčthere is a widely available scientifically proven vaccine or highly effective treatment." They also say safe reopening "should be 14 days of zero community spread."

The FEA further called for specific measures to protect teachers if in-person classes need to be held for high needs students, including providing adequate ventilation in buildings, providing staff with medical grade personal protective equipment and providing all staff with COVID-19 testing.

"Since none of the requirements for safe return are likely to be met in the foreseeable future of the 2020-21 school year, we reiterate: Keep Fairfax County Public Schools Virtual for the 2020-21 school year," the union wrote.

Fairfax County Public Schools began classes on Aug. 25, and is currently holding a mixture of online and virtual classes. The district announced on Monday that it is moving ahead to get more students in the classroom.

Another teacher's union in the county---the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers--has a slightly different perspective on school reopenings. They've called for a delayed reopening until the county addresses its 11 Pillars of a Safe Reopening, which also addresses providing PPE to teachers, adequate ventilation and rigorous tracking and tracing.

The Virginia Department of Health reported 167,754 cumulative cases of COVID-19 across the state on Tuesday. Fairfax County reported just under 23,000 cases.

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