We the educators and community members of Anne Arundel County stand in solidarity with the dedicated educators who work at our county's special education centers. Our special educators have devoted their talents and their passion towards ensuring that our county's students with the most intensive needs are provided a high-quality personalized education focused on the whole child. We are dismayed that members of the Anne Arundel County School Board would publicly express disappointment that our special educators have not returned to their classrooms without asking the necessary follow-up question as to why they have refused to do so.
Our committed and caring professionals agonized over the decision to not return to their classrooms. They made the difficult decision to not go back to in-person schooling because there is currently no memorandum of understanding (MOU) around the changing working conditions and safety concerns that have arisen due to the current pandemic.
The Board of Education has claimed the following:
From our youngest students, to parents or guardians reaching out to support their children, to the most seasoned educator or staff member, to our community members generously volunteering their time and talents – each and every individual is capable of learning more and contributing more when they feel they are an appreciated, connected and contributing member of the Anne Arundel County Public Schools family. Progress can be made and goals met or surpassed with greater ease when all stakeholders feel a sense of belonging in our schools and offices across the district.
Right now, this commitment to community and appreciation of one another is being called into question. Despite multiple invitations beginning in the spring semester when the school system shifted to virtual learning, the Board of Education has refused to sit down at the bargaining table with educators' legally recognized bargaining representative, the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County (TAAAC), to negotiate an MOU around the myriad working conditions that have been affected by the school system's shift to virtual learning and those that will need to be implemented in a hybrid learning environment as well as the safety protocols that need to be put into place to ensure a safe reopening. Until the school board negotiates an MOU with the union that determines mutually agreed upon working conditions as well as safety protocols, we stand in solidarity with our special education teachers in their decision to not return to their classrooms.
Furthermore, we, the educators and community members of Anne Arundel County, need assurances that the school system's safety protocols are in alignment with the most accurate scientific knowledge from the most credible sources. We need confidence that not only will these protocols be implemented but that they will be adhered to by all staff and students as well as enforced by the school system's leadership. This will ensure that not only teachers and support staff are safe but that students are safe and our entire community is safe. Just as the Board of Education holds their educators and students accountable to strive to be the best version of themselves, we call on our Board of Education to model these same expectations.