The Waunakee Teachers Association has released a statement regarding fall school instruction, urging its district to adopt a virtual model for curriculum delivery in September.

More than 185 teachers and staff have signed their name in support.

“With the health and safety of our students and community in mind,” the WTA statement reads, “we urge our district leadership to press pause on planning for in-person learning in September and refocus their efforts on bolstering virtual learning opportunities.”

The union has urged district leaders to acknowledge the unpredictability of the current pandemic, noting that data about COVID-19’s transmissibility and long-term health effects remain unknown.

It added that health guidelines pose obstacles to in-person learning.

“Based on the criteria set forth by the Badger Bounceback plan and the most current data and recommendations from health professionals,” the statement reads, “there are numerous barriers to the safe implementation of a face-to-face educational model in September.”

For that and other reasons, the union has advocated for virtual learning come fall.

Co-president Kyle Emmert said the July 18 statement was based on survey feedback that the association had received following listening sessions held by the school district this summer.

“The WTA executive team felt it pertinent to seek additional information from teaching staff in regard to some of the scenarios being considered for reopening our schools in the fall,” Emmert said. “To that end, we developed a survey to gather input from our teaching staff.”

Approximately 70 percent of teachers completed the survey, Emmert said, with 104 respondents stating they would not feel comfortable returning to work if COVID-19 rates remained steady.

One hundred fifty-eight teachers said they would not feel comfortable, were rates to go up.

“If the district would return to fully in-person or a hybrid model,” co-president Ashley Taylor said, “only 74.7 percent of teachers said they will be returning to work, with 27 teachers saying they would consider resigning from their position.”

In contrast, 98 percent of teachers responded that they would return to work in a virtual model. Only six respondents reported that they would consider resigning in the online format.

The association has therefore urged district leaders to consider their request for virtual instruction.

“There is no easy solution,” the WTA’s statement reads. “But we believe that virtual learning is currently the only option that provides a sustainable plan for providing a rigorous, high-quality educational experience while keeping students, staff and community members safe.”

The teacher union’s full statement can be found online, on the WTA Facebook page.

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