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Teachers unions on Peninsula, in Gloucester County back 100% online learning for return to school

Teachers unions in Gloucester, Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, York and Williamsburg/James City want students to be taught virtually when the school year starts.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Teachers unions with school divisions on the Peninsula and in Gloucester County want students to begin the upcoming school year under virtual instruction only.

The unions make up the Virginia Education Association Colonial Uniserv, which serves educators in Gloucester, Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, York and Williamsburg/James City County. The unions collectively agree that teaching in the fall semester should be done through online/remote channels only.

Teachers from the divisions believe that virtual instruction is the safest model to follow when children return to school because COVID-19 cases are spiking in Hampton Roads.

They also support moving to in-person instruction only when health metrics show there's a downward trend in the 14-day moving average and the virus has been significantly contained in the region.

Teachers across Hampton Roads are echoing that same sentiment to start the school year off with 100% virtual learning.

“Every day we learn more about this virus, so it's better to be prudent and not put people at risk,” President of the Newport News Education Associatio Rhonda Wagner said. “If we wait, whether it's the first quarter or semester, it buys us more time, how can we protect ourselves better.”

Union members support a return to in person learning, only when the virus is significantly contained, and public health strategies are in place for controlling the spread.

The Regional VEA President Brian Teucke says union members should have had a seat at the table from the first day until the final decision, but they didn't.

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On Wednesday, the Norfolk Public School Board voted to start the first nine weeks of the school year with virtual learning only.

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