July 9, 2020

Educators for Excellence Statement on School Reopenings

July 9 (New York) — Educators for Excellence (E4E), a teacher-led organization, released the following statements about potential school reopenings, in light of recent comments from President Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on the matter, and as districts begin to announce plans for the fall. 

“The last few months have been incredibly stressful for students, teachers and parents,” said E4E-New York member Carlotta Pope, an English Language Arts teacher at Brooklyn Community Arts & Media High School. “Teachers know that distance learning can’t compare to face-to-face instruction in the classroom, but at the same time, this virus continues to spread rapidly in so many of our communities. Students can’t focus on learning and teachers can’t focus on teaching if our schools don’t have the tools we need to either open safely or effectively reach all our students virtually with quality online instruction. We need our elected leaders to do right for all by providing the funding and the resources so we have what we need to get students back on track, regardless of the setting this fall.”

“We cannot allow this critical conversation to devolve into a partisan fight or one that pits parents against teachers,” said Evan Stone, Co-Founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Educators for Excellence. “We all want the same thing: for our children to be able to continue their learning in a meaningful way and for them and their teachers to be able to do so safely. We know that this pandemic has had a hugely negative impact on students’ learning and their social and emotional health — particularly for our most vulnerable young people. Now is not the time to water down CDC guidelines or threaten to cut desperately needed education funding. We need national leaders to come together to ensure schools have the resources they need, whether it’s for additional safety measures and supplies that allow schools to reopen, or the resources to improve distance learning so that all students can participate and advance their learning.”

In May, E4E released Voices from the (Virtual) Classroom, a nationally representative survey of public school teachers exploring education during the COVID-19 crisis — what has been working and what hasn’t in terms of distance learning — and what teachers think the priorities should be when classrooms reopen. Key findings include:

​​Students from vulnerable populations are far less likely to have what they need to successfully participate in distance learning. 

When schools reopen: 

Teachers’ top two priorities are to take additional health and sanitation measures and create smaller class sizes with staggered schedules.  

​Teachers say they are most concerned about academic decline (39%) and social-emotional issues (33%).

​In the event of future closures, teachers say it is most important for districts or charter networks to have a plan in place to provide students with necessary learning tools, such as personal learning devices.