UEA president appeals to the state to put teacher and student health first

As schools plan for and attempt to plan for reopening soon in the midst of the continued spread of COVID-19, Utah’s largest teachers union, the Utah Education Association (UEA), has called for hitting the pause button. They are seeking for a temporary continuation of distance learning at least for a few weeks into the school year, or maybe delaying the school year in general.

On KVNU’s For the People program on Tuesday, UEA president Heidi Matthews talked about how they reached this conclusion.

“Since last March, we have been, all of our educators, we are the first people who want to get back with our students.  We want that more than anything….well, not more than anything. We want it to be safe, looking out for the safety, health and well-being of our students and our teachers and everyone in our school, as well as the people they come into contact with,” she explained.

Matthews said the situation they had hoped to face this fall, which was declining cases of the virus and more opportunities to mitigate the risks, those just are not options anymore. She said their board of directors, who are all active educators in Utah, met Monday night with representatives from all over the state.

“And they voted unanimously to take this position and of calling on the governor to not stop schools, we’re all about school, but to temporarily delay the opening of schools that are impacted by the virus…the face-to-face opening, the opening in the school buildings and continue with an online distance learning mode.”

She said this is preferable until they get the virus under control and they can also expand their plans in school districts in the state to address some of the things that maybe have not been covered, that educators are concerned about. Late in the day, Governor Herbert said that the advice of both medical experts and teachers will be vital in adjusting and finalizing plans when and how to reopen schools.

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  • Cindy Allen July 28, 2020 at 10:33 pm Reply

    Thank you UEA for helping reduce community spread and taking the time to open schools safely so that we don’t overwhelm our health care system and can keep our economy open. We realize it couldn’t have been done any earlier because the virus situation changes daily.

    Our schools are not built for 6-foot social distancing. We have to do something different and Davis District hit the nail on the head. If students go to school 2 days a week, with half of the students at a time going, then we can social distance as has been recommended. This way, students will still get their education, and still get social needs met, but in a safer manner.

    In the past, I have had students sitting in the aisles of my classroom, because there wasn’t enough room for them to all have a desk. 200 students spend nearly 1 hour in my classroom daily. That is a lot of opportunity for community spread and for this virus to get out of control.

    I have taught science and now teach health. These small viruses pass easily through the cloth of our masks. It is the droplets that contain thousands of viruses that the masks block. My classroom, and many others which have no windows, would be full of millions of viruses by the end of each day.

    Research shows that children over the age of 10 are vectors of this pathogen. We want businesses to stay open and families to stay safe. Today I got my class roster and just seeing the pictures of the students made me so excited for this school year, but we have to be wise about how we go about it, or we will just end up with school closures again.

    We need to work on this together. I deeply appreciate our district leaders and the difficult decisions they have needed to make. I know they have spent sleepless nights because they love our children and our communities. This virus has given our leaders and teachers a seemingly impossible task.

    I appreciate parents and the extra work and time they have given to their children’s education! Thank you to all who have worked together for the good of our children and our community. We have a wonderful community of good people here in Cache Valley.

  • prince albert July 28, 2020 at 11:05 pm Reply

    Non-essential. Stay locked in your basement

  • Deedee July 30, 2020 at 7:52 am Reply

    The psychological damage by isolating children and social distancing is far worse than the virus. We have already witnessed a huge spike in mental illness and it continues to rise. Best keep your kids home and meet with other homeschoolers for an excellent education and emotional well being of your children.

    • DJ July 30, 2020 at 8:10 pm Reply

      If you are sending your kid to school so they can socialize, I’d rethink your decision. Kids will not be able to play together at recess for fear of contact with other students. Calisthenics was one of the options we were given for recess. They have seating assignments even at lunch. There are no field trips, no library. That’s just to name of few of the boundaries schools are setting up to keep your child healthy, because reopening schools right now is the wrong thing to do.

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