Those two simple words might not seem enough, but they are words that need to be said to NYSUT members everywhere.
The latest COVID surge is taking its toll on entire school systems, moving fast and cutting deep into the student and staff population.
Statewide, teachers are sick. Students are sick. Bus drivers are sick. Teacher aides and office staff are sick. Some districts are barely operating at half capacity.
Yet, school is still happening — every day, no matter what the pandemic brings.
Students are learning. Teachers are teaching. Kids are being transported to school. Support staff is ensuring that critical work is getting done.
And it’s happening because of NYSUT members — because of their dedication, professionalism and commitment to their students and communities.
Consider what’s happening:
- Teachers despite their own heavy workload are stepping in for their sick colleagues and taking on their classes as well.
- Mechanics and dispatchers are stepping up and filling in for sick drivers.
- School staff in some districts are serving as substitute teachers.
- Teacher aides are preparing lessons for use online to ensure sick students have what they need at home.
- School nurses, psychologists and social workers are providing critical care and assistance to students and families in need.
While our members are working selflessly each day to support one another, it’s important to note, too, the support they are receiving from their communities. Parents, for example, are making their own sacrifices daily to ensure their kids keep learning, partnering with teachers throughout this unprecedented time.
Still, the dedication of NYSUT members cannot mask the way in which the pandemic has shown a light on how our public education system — already stretched too thin by underfunding and a national teacher shortage — is being pushed dangerously close to the brink. As evidenced here in New York, teachers during this pandemic have demonstrated just how much they want to be in the classroom. It’s time state and federal policymakers provide the support they deserve to ensure our educators and schools are able to fulfill their mission.
Funding and tuition assistance must be made available for affordable access to teacher-preparation programs; the certification process must be reformed to be less burdensome; and resources must be increased to ensure schools have the ability under the most dire of circumstances to provide students with what’s necessary to succeed.
Given the challenge posed by this unrelenting pandemic, it’s remarkable the way NYSUT members have risen to the occasion. But, as we have seen time and again over these past two years, it’s not surprising.
Thank you for all you have done.
And thank you, as well, for all you continue to do.