UFEA President Lindsey Dickinson shared the following comments with the Board of Education during their September 16, 2020 meeting.

I’m Lindsey Dickinson. As president of the Unit Five Education Association, I’m proud to represent nearly 1,000 hard working, dedicated and determined professional educators.

Tonight I am here to address the disturbing narrative being shared by district administrators and school board members insinuating staff members are to blame for students not being in school buildings to learn in person. 

On behalf of UFEA I want to first state unequivocally: we want to be back at school in-person with our students and colleagues. We know the meaningful work UFEA members do in classrooms, and schools, cannot be replicated with remote learning. 

That’s why we have only ever taken one position since the district began planning to return to school — we want to be involved in the decision-making process when those decisions impact our members and students, and we believe decisions need to prioritize the health and safety of students, families and staff.

When the district determined it would not be safe to return to school under the original plan, we supported that decision because it prioritized the health and safety of staff and students.

But the decision NOT to return was not made by us. And it was not made because of us.

You were elected and hired to make decisions. With that power and privilege comes responsibility. You must own your decisions.

While much of this district’s success has been achieved on the backs of our members, often without appropriate credit or adequate compensation, we refuse to be the scapegoats for decisions the district makes — especially those made without our involvement.

Messages were sent by district administrators that place blame on staff for students not being back in school. We understand some school board members have been sharing similar messages.

Those messages are inaccurate, inappropriate, and must stop immediately.

UFEA is currently working with the district to develop a reopening plan. Much of that plan depends on the status and spread of coronavirus in our community. Everyone in the community must come together to create a scenario that makes it safe to get back to normal — or as close to normal as we can. 

But until that plan is developed and implemented, decisions about students returning to learn in-person are being handled on a case by case, classroom by classroom basis. There are a number of factors that impact those decisions — including the status of coronavirus in the community and the district’s ability to provide adequate resources, space and staffing. 

No individual staff member should be blamed when circumstances don’t support returning in-person — circumstances we can all relate to like a lack of childcare, or being high-risk and jeopardizing our health and the health of our students and families. 

Nobody wants our current reality.

UFEA members are working long hours, learning new ways to teach and support students, and doing much of it with inadequate resources or items we’ve purchased ourselves to try to make the most of this situation for our students.

UFEA wants staff, families and students safe. 

UFEA wants to be back at school, in person, safely. 

We’re willing to work with the district, and we’re willing to be creative and collaborative. But we won’t allow the district decision-makers — administrators and school board members — to shame us or shift the blame to us.

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