Petition to Prevent School Layoffs During COVID-19 Pandemic

Local School Boards and Superintendents

No school employees should be threatened with or suffer layoffs or reductions in hours/pay during this incredibly difficult time.
Sponsored by

To: Local School Boards and Superintendents
From: [Your Name]

We, Vermont’s teachers and support staff, urge school districts, for professional and humanitarian reasons, to continue employing all school personnel for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.

Many Vermonters are being hit hard now, and from many directions. They are facing an unprecedented threat to their economic security and are fearful they will not be able to put food on the table and pay their bills. The loss of private health insurance when work is lost will expose them to even greater hardship, medical and financial.

Moreover, keeping all staff employed will allow districts to avert costly rehiring and staffing complications that inevitably arise after major layoffs. We want to return to school with the necessary contingent of experienced staff – the same professionals our students and families know and trust.

Standing Together

For our parents and grandparents, the Great Depression of the 1930s was a generation-defining moment. This is our generation-defining moment.

When we look back on this devastating period, we will want to say we did everything we could, individually and collectively, to protect the most vulnerable, to preserve our public institutions, to support local businesses, and to stand together as Vermonters.

Students & Parents Need Us Now More than Ever

Public schools are closed for the balance of this academic year, but there is still much to be done to educate, feed and protect school-aged children, to support parents and other caregivers, to bolster the morale and resilience of local communities, and to prepare our schools for the return to normal operations, we hope, in late August.

Now more than ever, there is a need for staff to connect with students. Teachers and support professionals can be used in new and creative ways to engage with students as never before to make sure even the most challenged and at-risk students maintain their connection with their community school.

We call on each school district, therefore, to establish an S.U.-wide, COVID-19 Operations Task Force of school administrators, union leaders, teachers and ESP, and school board members to:

a. Implement realistic plans to identify and facilitate effective remote-learning for students, taking into account serious equity, capacity and technical obstacles, including, but not limited to: the effects on students of extended social and academic isolation; the emotional, work and financial pressures on parents and caregivers; and limited internet capacity and the absence of a computer in some homes.

b. Determine the academic and logistical duties of various categories of staff to support expanded remote-learning.

c. Determine the academic and logistical duties of office and para-educator personnel to support special educators to meet federal and state mandates for children on IEPs.

d. Satisfy mandatory reporting obligations, and establish a system and staffing protocol to accomplish this.

e. Continue community food preparations and delivery.

f. Communicate to students, families, staff and coaches about graduation, permissive summer activities, and FY21 athletic and extra-curricular activities.

g. Develop age-appropriate virtual learning opportunities and written materials to help students and families cope with the social, emotional, physical, and psychological pressure of extended social isolation.

h. Identify short- and long-term school building infrastructural needs for custodial and maintenance staff.

i. Identify and facilitate relevant professional development opportunities for staff.

j. Identify and secure necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and devices for school staff at risk of exposure.

k. Survey family and community needs related to essential school services during the public health emergency.

We are prepared to do everything we can, in partnership with school districts and the State of Vermont, to protect the health and welfare of students and families, to advance remote learning, and to help our communities endure with dignity and security during the pandemic.