Some good news for the people of West Virginia was announced recently. Governor Jim Justice, working with the Department of Health issued new guidelines that would see all students in K through 8 returning to in-person classes. Older students would also have that opportunity depending on the “color code” of virus cases in each county. Given the disastrous results that parents have been seeing from remote learning and the damaging impact such programs have had on their home and work lives, this was a welcome development for many families.
Sadly, there’s one significant problem standing in the way of the Governor fully implementing this plan. The West Virginia American Federation of Teachers union has already announced that they will oppose this policy. They’re filing an injunction against the West Virginia State Board of Education and the Department of Education, seeking to stop their members from having to return to work. I know that most of our regular readers are about to faint from shock at the idea of a teachers union trying to keep the schools shut down, so take a moment to compose yourselves. (Washington Examiner)
A West Virginia teachers’ union is planning to take legal action to halt Gov. Jim Justice’s plan to reopen all elementary and middle schools for in-person schooling five days a week.
According to the West Virginia American Federation of Teachers, reopening all the schools would put the health and safety of school employees at risk. The injunction will be filed against the West Virginia State Board of Education, the Department of Education and several county boards of education.
“Appointed policymakers issuing in-person learning mandates to local boards, who are duly elected by the citizens of their communities to govern their local schools, is an incredible overstepping of authority,” the union said in a news release.
Is it just me, or is the idea of a teachers union that constantly funds liberal political campaigns and lobbies for federal regulations of public education suddenly claiming that local school boards should be making all of the decisions simply laugh-out-loud funny? To hear them talking about an “incredible overstepping of authority” is something worthy of a Keystone Cops movie.
I understand that everyone remains nervous about the COVID situation, particularly given how slowly the vaccine rollout has been going. I can relate to those sentiments. But at the same time, we’ve been acquiring a mountain of data over the past ten months and the general consensus is that schools are among the least likely places for the pandemic to spread. (That link is from the CDC, by the way.) If the teachers conduct classes from behind a plexiglass barrier, wear N-95 masks and observe social distancing, there doesn’t seem to be much of an argument against going back to work.
And yet, teachers unions around the country are pushing back against any suggestion that they return to work, at least until everyone is vaccinated. But that probably won’t happen until long after the current school year ends and possibly not until well into the next semester. Meanwhile, the shutdowns are increasingly producing damage to children’s educational outcomes, mental health and emotional state. Parents are too often stranded without alternate daycare options, placing their jobs at risk, assuming they’re fortunate enough to have one.
In West Virginia, the appropriate people have examined the situation and determined that it should be safe to return to in-person classes. The fact that the union is willing to go to court to stop the state from sending them back to work should tell you all you need to know. And it doesn’t paint the union in a very good light.