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Fairfax Co. teachers advocate to stay out of the classroom this fall

Teacher’s unions in Fairfax County pushed for virtual classes to continue this fall during a town hall meeting Sunday afternoon.

Tiffany Dowling, who has been in the profession for 15 years, said going back to class would be a definite threat to her family.

“I get the flu most years from my students, which means my sons get it. I catch the common cold from my students every few months, which means my sons get it as well. This virus is no different,” said Dowling.

“I don’t want to leave teaching, but I need to feel safe at work.”

Fairfax County’s public school system sent parents an enrollment letter asking them to state their preference for the fall classroom format.

The plan offers families two choices — either full-time, online instruction, or two days of in-school instruction and independent study for the rest of the week.

But Fairfax Education Association President Kimberly Adams said the only decision that should be made is to stay with virtual learning.

“There are so many risks without answers right now,” Adams said.

“The FEA is still of the belief that a vaccination or a widely available treatment for COVID-19 is necessary before a full return to in person instruction can be achieved safely.”

She went on to say missed time in the classroom is better than the potential consequences of returning to school buildings.

“Many of us have lost family members and friends to this pandemic,” said Adams.

“We would prefer that, in hindsight, we were overcautious rather than grief stricken due to our role in community spread, transmission, infection and death.”

While parents are able to send their choice to the district, Fairfax County Federation of Teachers President Tina Williams said teachers are in fear they won’t have an option.

“We think it’s imperative that all staff be given this choice so they are able to work in the environment they feel most safe in,” Williams said.

Parents must make their opinion known to the school district by Friday July 10th.

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