Survey of 15,000 Michigan educators shows health and safety concerns paramount in return to in-person learning

Educators also concerned about class size, standardized testing, teacher evaluations in reopening Michigan’s school buildings

EAST LANSING – The Michigan Education Association today released a major statewide survey of more than 15,000 educators with findings related to COVID-19’s impact on public education, including the health and safety concerns that are front of mind for educators as discussions proceed about a return to in-person learning.

“The health and safety of our students, teachers, support staff and families has never been more important during the COVID-19 pandemic,” MEA President Paula Herbart said. “This survey shows us health and safety are top of mind for Michigan’s hard-working, dedicated public educators. They know their students, parents and communities best, and want to be part of decision-making in safely reopening our school buildings. Just like nurses, doctors and other public health experts have been relied on during this crisis, we will urge our lawmakers to heed the findings of this survey as we chart a path back to school.”

“The goal of our survey was to get input from front-line educators about how COVID-19 has impacted public education and, especially, how we can safely reopen Michigan’s school buildings,” said Doug Pratt, MEA’s director of public affairs. “First and foremost, educators agree that public health experts are key in this process to determine how to keep everyone safe. The survey demonstrates the level of anxiety and concern our public educators have for their students, their students’ families, their colleagues and the communities they serve.”

More than 15,000 teachers, support staff, higher education faculty & staff, and other public educators who are MEA members responded to the online survey, conducted May 14-22. Key findings include:

88% agreed it was important that schools were closed to help prevent the spread of the disease.

87% are concerned about health risks to students, students’ families and fellow employees in reopening schools.

91% think smaller class sizes will be necessary to enforce social distancing.

90% said standardized testing should be suspended until normal school operations resume, including requirements based on standardized tests (like 3rd grade reading retention).

89% believe standards need to be set and enforced regarding future outbreaks of illness and required closure of buildings.

75% expressed concerns that current evaluation practices can’t be fairly implemented to measure educator effectiveness when school resumes.

75% said taking temperatures of students and staff entering school buildings and careful tracking of illnesses will be essential.

74% believe schools should provide and require usage of masks and other personal protective equipment for employees.

62% think current staffing and resources are insufficient for cleaning, food service, busing and other essential services.

32% said COVID-19 has made them think about leaving the public education profession or retiring earlier than planned (with 8% saying they are doing so).

View details about the survey results here.  You can watch the press conference on YouTube or, if needed, download higher quality video for broadcast.

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2 thoughts on “Survey of 15,000 Michigan educators shows health and safety concerns paramount in return to in-person learning

  1. Please send this survey to ALL Public schools and analyze the data. You’d find different numbers. We are NOT scared to go back and educate our students. We are scared that a state government and an organization like the MEA (which I pay monthly dues into) does NOT represent the voice of all of its members. We’re scared that you, MEA, are not looking at livelihood of ALL Michiganders, but just at the politicians and the people over the age of 65 with underlying conditions. You’re leaving are opinions out intentionally. Social distancing does not work to slow the spread of disease- social isolation does that. Cloth masks and surgical masks are largely symbolic. The science hasn’t changed behind them in 100 years, but now the agenda has. They do NOT effectively work at stopping germs from exiting or entering. Find a STUDY that supports otherwise. You will not find numbers higher than the range 6-19% effective. In fact, the WHO does not support or recommend for healthy people to wear masks right now, but the CDC dies. Why do the two largest public health organizations differ on something as small as wearing masks? It’s easy, MEA, to support someone who errs on the side of caution now, because everyone can still feed their families. What happens when people’s stimulus check money runs out, or when their unemployment and additional unemployment stipend runs out? What happens when people can no longer feed their families, and you, MEA, have a large part in that? Encouraging the false comfort of social distancing, mask wearing, and smaller class sizes in public education, means your going to be part of the reason hundreds of thousands of parents have to quit their job, or cut their hours in half, to watch their children during online learning days/times. I suggest we play it SMART, and that is the only way we can make it SAFE for those at risk from dying from covid. #1: allow healthy adults and children to attend school full time and exercise their freedoms, liberties, and rights.#2: allow those families and students who are fearful and who may have underlying medical conditions in their homes and families, to keep their child at home full time to participate in online learning. They should have the choice. #3: please do not support the progression into stage 6 with the only options to do this as being the creation of a vaccine, or an effective medicine to treat this. If you support this, you will be partially responsible for allowing our public education system to crumble on the basis of FEAR, and by trying to stop the spread of disease that is not extremely fatal like the media has portrayed it to be. This is a new disease that will always be here and will be a potential threat to the people who are elderly or have underlying health conditions. What percentage of deaths happen in people with underlying health conditions? 1/4 of covid deaths have occurred in a nursing home in Michigan. Consider this factor, and covid numbers really IS like the flu. Except the flu kills more school aged healthy children. Please take a long hard look at who it is you trying to protect?

  2. Can you please poll students and educators on how effective they believe online learning is? I did this with my students last week and out of 40 middle schoolers, 2 said they were learning, 5 said they kind of were learning and the rest said they were not. Online learning for school aged children is not going to educate them, will not allow teachers to use best practices or resources, and will not be a substantial substitution for public education. It will not equally serve its students either, so let’s not overlook this!!!!! It will only be as effective as the child’s parents enforce. I’m a parent to two kindergarteners and their teachers ARE amazing. They did great things online. But my child didn’t learn even 1/10 of what they would have in school. And what they did learn, it’s because I made them. The role of the parent is crucial in online learning, yet you’ve never mentioned it or addressed it? Parents need to be involved daily in their child’s online learning and will need to literally push their child to learn. And we already know how difficult it is to get parents involved in their child’s education. they shouldn’t have to be the teacher!!!!! But now we’re faithfully putting this responsibility on parents, expecting them to carry the weight of their child’s participation and success in online learning. Not. Gonna. Happen. Online learning will allow unequal opportunities for people in low income households to resurface and public education is supposed to help level our these inequities. Another point is that, public education is supposed to be free. But in my school district, I will have to pay $25/day for each one of my children to attend school on the days their not scheduled to attend with their proposed hybrid learning plan. I understand that school districts, administrators, teachers, parents and students in a horrible position and feel pressure to support CDC guidelines when I believe those guidelines are set to only make people FEEL more safe, not actually MAKE them more safe. I have a problem playing the part to give people a false sense of security. Dear MEA, you should have a problem with this, too. If I’m sick and asymptomatic for 6 days and I see ALL of my students in a three day period, with a mask that is not effective, wouldn’t I be spreading the virus? And wouldn’t the virus remain in the air that I Walk through. Like in the halls, in the enclosed classrooms air. So would social distancing really work? I’m thinking that only social isolation would effectively reduce transmission. Which is what we effectively did as Michiganders in the start of this! And I’m proud to be a part of that! But now, taking precautions that are less than 19% effective is not the game I want to play. The first 2 months of this pandemic, Dr. Fauci himself was steadfast in his belief that healthy people shouldn’t wear masks and that it really wouldn’t stop the spread. WHO doesn’t support healthy wearing masks. People in China typically wear masks when they themselves feel sick, as a courtesy to others, or because of pollution. They historically do not wear them when they are healthy!!!! Also, I would guess 30% of adult Kroger employees have difficulty wearing their mask for their full 8 hour shift. I see this because they put the mask beneath their nose. But we’re (and MEA, Whitmer) are expecting 7 year olds to do this. Now when they take it off to eat, doesn’t it completely defeat the purpose of wearing a mask in the first place? Please, let’s not overlook this reality because of perpetuated fear!!!!!!!!!! MEA, please pass my message and opinion to the Governor!!!!

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