Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I hope that this email finds you surviving the stressful times we live and work in.
The increasing numbers of COVID cases throughout the state has many feeling anxious, especially as those numbers increase within our own school community. Working together amongst ourselves, and in conjunction with our sisters and brothers in Teamsters, ASDA and along with Central Administration and the Board of Education, we have surpassed the expected length of time that our schools would be able to remain open. We appreciate the hard work that everyone has done in order to keep our buildings operational and our staff and students safe. We know that students learn best when they are with us in the classroom. The PCT will continue to advocate on our members behalf to ensure safety and provide up-to-date information in this dynamic situation.
During this Thanksgiving, there is much to be thankful for and….. much to be exhausted by. We have overcome many obstacles and continue to adjust to the layer of quicksand upon which we work. If we reflect on where we were last March, we can be thankful for all that we have learned and what we have accomplished. It is an immeasurable accomplishment!! Your dedication and stamina are amazing. We have worked around the clock to adapt the educational needs of our students to our current situation. We will continue to do that one step at a time for the remainder of this year. There are numerous issues which we must continue to monitor. However, for this weekend, it is important for us to step away for a bit as best we can.
I’m sure all of you are finding yourselves working around the clock as our job responsibilities have increased and the ease of communication in remote learning makes it very difficult for us to create boundaries or limit our after hours availability to parents and administrators. Simply put, we are stressed from the ceaseless demands of this situation. Each area of our membership has had a change or addition to their responsibilities. Changing lessons from in-person to remote and then from remote to synchronous while keeping up with the concerns of parents and administrators, maintaining medical information, absences documentation, health screening information, completing professional development and preparing for observations all with the specter of COVID19 and the health and safety of ourselves, our families and our colleagues hanging over our heads has us stressed. Stress impacts our ability to remain healthy, thoughtful, productive and of value to our students and our family.
We have all learned the new vocabulary that is associated with COVID19: socially distance, self- isolation/quarantine, micro clusters and contact tracing are just a few. We hear those words with a sense of negativity and dread. In an effort to change the narrative and help us to take the necessary time for ourselves, I would like to offer some alternative definitions to these newly created terms. I hope that you will follow the updated definitions of these now all too familiar terms.
We are Essential Workers but more importantly we are Essential People. Essential to our family, friends, colleagues and students.
Socially distance: Make every effort to take a specified time to socially distance yourself from work emails, pd or reports.
Self-isolation/quarantine: find some time for yourself to pursue a hobby, read a book or watch a movie--- anything that makes you happy and brings you peace
Micro cluster the small yet important group of friends and family in which you find support, love and good times with.
Contact tracing: Look up some long lost but dear friends and make a connection via social media or …. a real live phone call.
It has been an interesting and unpredictable year so far to say the least. As educational professionals, we have long been in the business of doing amazing work in the most challenging of circumstances. Let’s remember that these circumstances are far beyond any we’ve encountered before. As you attempt the impossible task of building a plane in the air yet again, keep your own well-being in mind. So…. Put the (holiday themed, outfit matching, medical grade, filtered, COVID-19- preventing)) oxygen mask on yourself first. If we do not take care of ourselves how can we support our students, families, and colleagues?
Please make sure that as you take care of yourselves, you also do what you should to take care of others. We all work together and rely on each other. Please remember to follow the CDC guidelines and maintain a safe distance from each other, limit the number of people that you gather with, use plenty of hand sanitizer and wear your mask. We are each other’s best support teams. If there are any issues within your buildings that we can assist with, please do not hesitate to reach out to your reps. I am thankful for all of our members, reps, officers, and PCT office staff who represent us so well each and every day.