Today, August 25, 2020, the Volusia United Educators (VUE) declared impasse after reaching a deadlock with the Volusia County School District (VCS) regarding the District’s unsafe re-opening plan.
The VCS proposed plan threatens the health and lives of the over 3800 educators represented by VUE, their students, their families, and the community at large. Teachers want to begin the 2020-21 academic year more than anyone. However, we must reconvene in a manner that prioritizes the health and safety for all. In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, VCS, is forcing thousands of teachers to engage in face-to-face instruction while refusing to listen to the advice and guidance of health experts across the state and the nation.
The District has refused to implementation of all CDC recommendations proposed by the Union. Instead, the District has determined that their reopening plan provides the necessary safeguards against the spread of the virus.
Further, the only directive that has been provided by Patricia Boswell, Director of the Volusia County Department of Health, has been to maintain the 6 ft social distance guidelines provided by the CDC. Ms. Boswell stated, “the social distancing of 6 feet is so important to stop the spread of this virus.”
However, the District continues to reduce the expectations for social distancing within our schools and is walking back the implementation of policy 503, Mandatory Face Coverings. The policy states, “face coverings must be worn by all students, employees, visitors, vendors or any other persons, while in or on school board property where social distancing guidelines from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) cannot be maintained.”
The District has failed to meaningfully engage with stakeholders including educators, parents, and health experts. The District has failed to be transparent and implement the policies and guidelines that they cite as the building blocks for their reopening plan. The District has failed to bargain in good faith. The District has failed to listen to the science. The District has failed its students, parents, and educators.
With the start of the 2020-2021 School Year only days away, and with students scheduled to return to in-person instruction on Monday, there is no time to allow the District to continue to stall at the bargaining table. The Union was left with no choice but to declare impasse to get these serious disputes resolved before it’s too late.
The Volusia United Educators and the thousands of teachers it represents implore the School Board to act with urgency to protect the lives of our students, educators and community.
– Volusia United Educators President Elizabeth Albert