The impact of the coronavirus has been felt in every county, community, school building, and classroom.
Through all the challenges and trauma, educators and our union have been following the science, organizing together, advocating with a loud voice, and remaining focused on what our students need.
Some members have been in worksites since the pandemic started. Still more have welcomed students back for most of the year. And others have been virtual or leading hybrid learning all school year. There is not one common experience for every educator.
But what has been constant is our demand for safe and healthy learning and working conditions. Union leaders and association representatives in buildings have worked from an MSEA-developed checklist which reflects guidance from state and federal health agencies. Local associations have led the call for layered remediation plans that focus on protective equipment, appropriate ventilation, smaller class sizes, physical distancing, masks, hand washing, and the list goes on.
Some school districts worked closely with local leaders and created memoranda of understanding related to working conditions and expectations for everyone in the building. But other districts stonewalled the process and made it difficult for employees to trust that the support would be available when it was most needed. Either way, we’ve fought for what educators and students need.
Our advocacy has continued at the state and federal levels. Legislation was advanced in Annapolis to protect educators who were seeking accommodations from reprisal by local or state superintendents. We successfully overrode the veto of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future and helped pass the American Rescue Plan, which taken together will support huge increases in education funding in the short- and long-term. It will bring the higher salaries and improved staffing levels that we’ve long called for, as well as expanded programs to address the inequities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Through our union and collective voice, we’ve fought to keep educators, students, and families safe during the pandemic and our actions will also set us on the path of a transformative, more equitable vision of our schools post-pandemic.