Our Support Staff are Educators! Listen to our Heroes!

July 17, 2020

Dear School Board Members, Dr. Brabrand, and FCPS Leadership Team,

The Fairfax Education Association held a town hall this past Wednesday dedicated to hearing from your Educational Support Personnel (ESP) and addressing their unanswered questions. We are concerned that FCPS has not communicated with all employees regarding the upcoming school year and many are unsure what their jobs will look like now as well as in the next school year. Will they be able to work online?  Will they be given new responsibilities?  Will their hours be cut?  Will they be provided with sufficient PPE?  Our ESPs have many questions and they need answers.

Teachers were given a choice between virtual and in-person teaching, but our ESPs were not.

Our ESPs have just as many concerns as our teachers and are just as valued.  They deserve to have their concerns taken seriously by FCPS Leadership and the school board, and we want to make sure ALL your educators are heard!

We have sent you a full listing that includes all of the concerns brought forward by more than one hundred ESPs during the town hall.  Below is a quick summary:

ESP Concerns Related to In Person Learning                                                      

  • Increased exposure when being used as emergency substitutes
  • Cleaning will be an issue with only one or two custodians during the day
  • Effects of bus cleaning as many as 40 times/week (8 times/day)
  • Even with constant reminders, younger students will not socially distance
  • Inadequate PPE: One gallon of hand sanitizer and one mask might last a month or two
  • Having to turn a kid away when they try to hug you
  • All students need to be required to wear masks, as they can spread the virus just as easily

How ESPs Can Contribute to Distance Learning

  • Administrative work, so teachers can focus on teaching (attendance, chatroom monitoring, etc.)
  • Buses can deliver food deeper into various communities
  • Research and develop materials for lessons
  • Lead break out groups in virtual class settings
  • Answer questions during office hours

Other Significant Concerns

  • Support staff were not surveyed, and many Support Staff felt their importance was minimized.
  • They are not necessarily afraid to be in the building now, but are afraid to be in the building when it is filled with students and other staff.

ESP make a difference in the lives of our students in and out of the classroom. They are critical members of the education workforce and ensure student success. They have a wealth of knowledge and experience and play important roles in our community. ESP’s are Our Heroes!  They were not surveyed and felt their importance was minimized. They are not afraid to be in the buildings now, but fearful as buildings become filled with students and other staff.

It is the expectation of FEA that FCPS will consider the importance of all employees as we work to prepare for the coming school year. A good start would be more communication, even if all the questions cannot be answered at this time.  Our Heroes deserve to be heard.

Sincerely,

Kimberly Adams

President, Fairfax Education Association, sent on behalf of our Board of Directors

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