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WVEA Presidents Conference Report to Members

Your RCEA Co-Presidents, Colleen Broyles and John Quesenberry, recently represented Raleigh County at this year’s WVEA President Conference. Here are notes for our members on discussions from the conference.

WVEA Survey

It was announced that WVEA will be conducting a scientific survey of members on reopening schools this fall. The survey will be sent to all members who have personal emails on file with WVEA. The information received by member input will guide WVEA’s positions and policies on safely reopening schools.

Presidents were also given results of the nationwide survey of educators conducted by the NEA.

Highlights:

o There were mixed opinions on the best way to safely reopen schools.

o There was skepticism among several respondents that students would be able to social distance and wear masks.

o There was a high level of willingness to take some action such as signing a petition to fight for safety precautions.

o There was a low level of support for a strike or walkout over reopening schools.

o There were mixed opinions on the effectiveness of distance learning.

o There was a large concern over significant equity gaps such as participation of students, internet access, and poverty.

o Sec. of Education Betsy Devos and President Donald Trump received poor ratings on handling the pandemic.

o Overall, Democratic Governors received excellent ratings, Republican Governors received slightly positive ratings, the CDC, school principals, and administrators r received very good ratings.

WVEA President Dale Lee stressed repeatedly that WVEA leadership has been listening to our members and will continue to do so and that our positions will be based on our members.

The differences between the WV Virtual School and Remote Learning was addressed. It was pointed out that while counties received credit and student funding for their students who enrolled in the WV Virtual School, the county is required to pay $1,100 per student enrolled back to the state.

President Lee has been communicating with State Superintendent Burch and the State Dept. should be releasing a FAQ document soon to address many of the questions and concerns of members and county school systems.

All but 5 or 6 counties have worked out their pay schedules so that employees will not miss pay checks because of the start date for students being pushed back by the Governor. Those counties are working on it and should be granted waivers by the state to make sure employees do not miss a paycheck.

Cabell and Wayne County presidents went over the collaboration they have had with the local county BOE’s and the re-entry plans their counties have passed.

President Lee and Executive Director David Haney gave a presentation on the upcoming election. WVEA will be focusing our efforts in the State Senate races. Key races we will focus on are the 1st, 2nd, 7th, 8th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 16th, and 17th senatorial districts. All counties are strongly encouraged to do PAC fundraisers and members encouraged to increase their PAC contributions to help the association fight for candidates who will be advocates for public education and to defeat those who are hostile to teachers/ESP, public schools, and education.

Assistant Executive Director and Director of Communications, Kym Randolph went over the next round of WVEA’s media campaign which has been funded by a media grant from NEA. These will be both pro-educator and public school ads and as the election nears, political messages aimed at the state election.

WVEA has produced an Adobe fillable online form that can be emailed to apply for membership. Every county BOE has not agreed to accept the form for payroll deduction however, since it does not have a signature. Some counties will accept it for payroll deductions and others will accept it if it is sent in an email from the county employee themselves. Every county just needs to check with their local BOE.

Federal laws that come into play with “reasonable modifications” for employees with high risk medical conditions, the use of sick days during quarantine, and funding during the pandemic were addressed. These are laws that are applicable:

o CARES Act (funding already allocated by Congress for public schools and 80 hours of personal leave for employee required isolation/quarantine)

o Americans with Disabilities Act

o Elementary and Secondary Education Relief Act (federal funding to states and local school systems)

o Family Medical Leave Act

o HEROES Act (passed by House of Representatives – currently held up in the Senate – would provide between $1 and $2 billion in federal funding for schools across the country to deal with the pandemic and safely reopening schools)

County presidents held regional meetings with the ODS to discuss membership, AR training and recruiting, reopening plans in their counties, and plans for their locals in the upcoming year.

Membership materials were distributed. These will be handed out at our AR (building Training for building reps August 5th at 1:00 pm at the Beckley Moose.

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