Good morning. I am Elizabeth Davis, President of the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU). The WTU represents over 5,000 active and retired teachers. We are dedicated to social and educational justice for the students of the District of Columbia and to improving the quality of support, resources, compensation and working conditions for the public servants and proud teachers who educate our students. Many of our WTU members live and pay taxes in the District and have kids or family members that attend DC schools. I am a DC teacher and DC resident.
Teachers understand and sympathize with those who want to return to our classrooms. Virtual instruction cannot replace the experiences our students get in a classroom. We understand the social and developmental concerns facing our students in this virtual environment. However, we do believe that teachers are doing an exceptional job during this pandemic, reaching and engaging their students, despite many technical issues and concerns. In the words of one WTU teacher:
“Virtual learning is not ideal; however, I do feel as if it is improving each and every day as teachers and students and families settle into a new routine. I would prefer to continue on the virtual learning trajectory and continue to do our very best as opposed to renter our building for in person learning without preparations and without knowing the state of our building and whether or not precautions have been taken. There is absolutely no need to risk lives. We should stay the course and continue to improve until a vaccine is created and building are safe and secure.”
~~ A WTU Teacher
The WTU understands that learning in our classrooms, both brick and mortar and digital, is impacted by many factors some out of the direct control of teachers. But, we can – and will – advocate for our students to receive the supports they need. The educational environment isn't confined to the classroom but, instead, extends into the home and the community and around the world. Information isn't bound primarily in books; it's available everywhere in bits and bytes.