Perspective from the Duluth Federation of Teachers

Updated: July 29, 2020 06:10 PM

Ethan Fisher knows how hard distance learning can be, as he and his wife have three elementary age kids. He's the president of the Duluth Federation of Teachers. "Trying to manage distance learning, and work, was difficult for me. And I'm a teacher. So for the average family, I'm sure it was probably a significant challenge," he shared.


He acknowledged that teachers were just tired out by the end of the year, dealing with all the changes, like the rest of the world.

Now, they are all anxious as they await word on what will happen this fall. Governor Walz is expected to announce those plans on Thursday.

Fisher said the union has been carefully keeping track of all the concerns their 700 members have. "The safety of our students and staff are paramount," he said.

They know some parents may choose to keep their kids out of the classoom. "Hopefully some of our members with their own health concerns can do some work from home that can focus on the needs of students who are also doing schooling at home."

He added that the district asked staff to take a survey, and they plan to follow up once the guidance is out from the state.

As for the turmoil surrounding all of this, Fisher said, "Hopefully everyone in the end knows that our job right now is to be educators. Whatever capacity that is. Teacher tend to pick up the pieces and go where they need to go, and make things happen. They are hardworking."

A new survey of the members of Education Minnesota found distance learning was the most popular choice for delivering education through public schools in the fall and that educators were extremely concerned about the safety of students and themselves during the pandemic.

49% percent of the respondents said they preferred distance learning while 29 percent preferred hybrid classes and 17 percent favored a return to in-person classes. The survey was open to the 86,000 members of the union from July 16-20. The number of educators to respond was 20,524. They include support professionals, custodians, retirees, and faculty at two-year colleges.


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