Anne Arundel County teachers union wants to be included in reopening plans

There’s a war of words between the Anne Arundel County teachers union and the school superintendent. At issue: in-person learning and whether teachers have a voice in plans to return to the classroom.

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Confusion and mistrust, that’s how the head of the 6,000-member teachers association is describing the current relationship with the Board of Education.

From the sidewalk along Riva Road, across the street from school board headquarters, union president Russell Leone says teachers have been left out of major decisions when it comes to in-person learning.

“We reached out to Anne Arundel County Public Schools and Superintendent Arlotto with a desire to come to the table and create a formal plan to discuss the impacts that COVID-19 would have on teaching and learning,” Leone said.

But school Superintendent George Arlotto says that couldn’t be further from the truth. Arlotto issued a statement saying: “I have had the chance to visit multiple schools in person and to virtually visit classrooms around our county and have seen firsthand the amazing things our teachers have been doing for our students. They are true heroes.”

“It is unfortunate that the leadership of the teacher’s association believes that teachers have not had a seat at the table and have been unable to provide input into the reopening process. That is simply not true. In fact, teachers have been part of the reopening committees and content delivery workgroups that have been meeting routinely since March to formulate plans and have been part of several town hall meetings to discuss issues such as safety and virtual learning. TAAAC’s president has met almost weekly with members of our team to address academic and other issues, and our Director of Employee Relations has met with TAAAC leadership at least a dozen times since the end of the last school year. Additionally, I personally meet with the TAAAC president and executive director on a frequent basis.”

“Most recently, TAAAC and other union leadership were invited to a 90-minute meeting with the county Health Officer and me that occurred just yesterday. During that meeting, we addressed many issues voiced by TAAAC leadership.”

“We strive to have collaborative relationships with all of our stakeholders, and in particular those who represent our amazing teachers and staff, as we plan for the reopening of our schools and the return of teachers and students to their classrooms. We can disagree on how to handle issues, but we should not stray from the facts.”

Last week, the superintendent told board members of his desire to re-open three special education innovation centers but said he didn’t have enough teachers to carry out the plan, a claim the union is denying.

“While they’ve been characterized as unwilling, these men and women are the heart of their student’s education,” Leone said. “There is nothing more important than the health and safety of our students and those who care for them.”

Teachers say they remain concerned about adequate school building ventilation, personal protection equipment and small class sizes.

As a part of his statement, he’s seen firsthand the amazing things teachers have been doing, saying they’re heroes.


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