LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - After stating educators want to return to in-person learning, the La Crosse Education Association (LEA) provided a policy position with three key guidelines they believe can help the community re-open schools safely.
LEA stated it wants students to get back to "normal" school, as the organization realizes the pandemic has placed an unprecedented level of stress on everyone, including local families, institutions, and schools. With this in mind, LEA believes three specific factors could help local schools re-open safely.
First, the organization said everyone must follow safety protocols established by the medical community. According to the association, when the number of COVID cases are low, the community is safer. When this occurs, it is more likely that schools can not only re-open, but stay open.
As such, LEA reminds community members that although cases have recently been on the decline and vaccinations have started, the public must continue to follow COVID-19 guidelines.
Next, LEA asserts the community must have a better program for getting individuals vaccinated. When an educator cannot work due to being sick themselves or having to quarantine, it places stress on the entire system, said LEA.
Under such circumstances, the organization stated schools must then find substitute teachers and classes may have to quarantine. Additionally, LEA said if enough employees can’t report to work, schools end up going back to online-only learning.
LEA asserts a major step in helping avoid this is to get frontline workers vaccinated, including educators. The association continued, saying it is not interested in placing blame on anyone for the speed of vaccinations. Instead, LEA stated it is more focused on getting residents vaccinated, so schools can safely teach children in the community.
Finally, the association asserts this is not a matter of “Us” versus “Them”. Instead, LEA points out what the organization believes to be the real issues. For example, the fact that elementary school teachers are in small buildings with hundreds of students and adults, said LEA.
According to the association, educators are surround by anywhere between 12-20+ children within their classrooms that are often not masked, eating, or may be too young to really understand and adhere to safety protocols.
LEA also said even if only one or two teachers in Special Education departments can't report to work, there is a risk that classrooms or even entire schools would have to close. Additionally, the association asserts that these students, who are most likely at risk and already marginalized, will risk losing out on the support and services they need.
LEA said that the organization and its members share community members' fears, anxiety, and hopes for the future. The association encourages individuals to continue to treat one another with grace and patience during these tough times.