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Special COVID-19 CEA Advisor in Your Mailbox This Week

Get answers to your questions, plus online safety tips, teaching support, and stress management tools in a Special Edition of the CEA Advisor arriving at your home this week. You can also read the edition online.

Read about some of the ways CEA is continuing to support members and local associations during school shutdowns in the article below that appears on page two of the edition.

CEA Provides Critical Support, Training, Advocacy During School Shutdowns

Educators have been working hard to adjust to a new way of teaching and connecting with their students, all while coping with the struggles of economic uncertainty, social isolation, and caring for family members while working.

CEA, meanwhile, has been advocating for teachers, holding regular weekly meetings with the state education commissioner, providing and receiving guidance on education policy and practices during the pandemic, and developing and hosting free professional learning so that members can adapt to the new and changing realities of distance learning.

Speaking up for teachers, students
CEA Executive Director Donald Williams has been tapped to serve on the Education Subcommittee of Governor Ned Lamont’s Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group. “Any reopening of schools will require comprehensive testing, tracing, and tracking, and plenty of personal protective equipment in order to safeguard the health of students and adults,” Williams noted in the group’s first meeting, held on April 21. He added, “Such testing is not currently being conducted in a comprehensive way anywhere in the U.S., and we cannot allow our teachers and their students and families to become ‘collateral damage.’”

Williams noted that Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona expressed that Connecticut needs the summer to plan and have the resources necessary if schools are to reopen safely and successfully in the fall.

Advocating for teachers’ rights, education budgets
CEA UniServ Representatives have been hard at work in districts throughout the state ensuring that teachers are not compelled to be in school buildings under conditions that put them at risk. From Andover to Woodbridge, they have also been tracking virtual budget meetings, hearings, and deliberations scheduled throughout the state, where town officials will be deciding issues that impact schools and teaching positions.

They are mobilizing members in those districts to reach out and give input supporting the necessary funding for quality education and continuity of learning. In addition to their continued work on enforcing settlement terms, negotiations, contract extensions, grievance arbitration, DCF investigations, and teachers’ transitions back from workers’ compensation and family medical leave, UniServ Reps are working long hours answering teachers’ questions about remote learning and interpreting union-district distance learning MOUs.

“We’re assisting local leaders in how best to address the changing working conditions under new work-from-home environments, gathering all the fast-changing information impacting our members, and distilling it down into daily updates to local leaders,” says UniServ Rep Lauren Hebert.

CEA UniServ Reps are also coordinating information sharing among local presidents so that they can learn from each other about best practices and policies in surrounding districts and across the state. “In uncertain economic times,” says Hebert, “we’re providing our negotiations teams and executive boards with creative strategies to reject harmful concession requests and develop Get Out The Vote budget campaigns to influence Boards of Finance to preserve school funding.”

“If teachers work remotely, we work remotely to support them,” says UniServ Rep Jim Tessitore.

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