Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers Local 1794
March 13, 2021, marked a year of our experience of the Pandemic. Throughout this time you have endured many obstacles and experiences to get to this point of the year. You have gone through the reopening of schools process, experienced the summer covid surge, experienced the school board’s decisions of giving secondary students incompletes and distance learning. As workers, you have changed formats, platforms, and curriculum. You have sheltered in place, reached out to families, consoled those who were grieving, and spoke out on behalf of your students. You did all of this because you care about your students, you care about your profession and you care about your community. During the reopening process, we have had legislation that forced us to do engagement logs, we have had safety guidelines that have changed on a regular basis, we have had varying safety enforcement within the cities where we worked and reside. Not only was our local standards shifting from numbers to colors, to hospitalization rates, our national landscape was also changing with the varying standards daily. While all of this was occurring, Elementary came back to school on September 29, 2020, for a half-day hybrid model. We were uncertain if all of the HVAC filters would be upgraded on time or if any of the safety measures would be in place. By the time Secondary came back for their full-day hybrid, much of the HVAC was in place, and the Air Purifiers were added to our classrooms. The HVAC system stretched to its limits not only due to Covid but with the fires that affected the air quality in our area. This is where we saw the unity within our union thrive.
You as caring individuals helped those colleagues who needed shelter during the fires. You covered and helped those colleagues who had to evacuate from their homes. During this entire crisis, our certificated colleagues have stood up for each other and housed one another. We had a record number of people on medical and personal leave during the covid crisis. Many needed to preserve the health of their loved ones and themselves. Many of you during the deadliest surge of the pandemic had to quarantine themselves due to exposure either at home or at school. In January, when we had the deadliest surges in US history, you worked as hard as you could to avoid students learning loss. During this time, secondary schools had to go into distance learning because the number of positive cases on campus affected the essential operations of the schools. Elementary, who experienced their highest numbers of positive covid cases in students, were able to operationally function while observing the steadily rising rates of infection. As we come from the epic surges from that time, the state and national standards for safety and children change yet again to allow us to go into a 100% model for elementary and an increased instructional model for secondary. Throughout every mountain and obstacle, there is one thing that is constant… YOU. YOU are the ones who have prevailed during this crisis. YOU are the ones that have educated these students no matter the obstacle. YOU are the ones who managed to stay healthy during a time when it is a challenge. YOU are the ones who have always put the community and students first in spite of your own personal safety. It is YOUR passion that is bringing us out of this pandemic and it is your strength that has prevailed this entire time. Thank you for persevering through the mountains that were laid before us. Thank you for keeping calm and professional on behalf of your students when society and the community may have been critical.
Thank you for keeping yourself healthy throughout this pandemic and maintaining a standard for safety for our students. Thank you for helping one another. Thank you for helping your colleagues during fires. Thank you for helping colleagues when they had safety issues in their classrooms. Thank you for helping those colleagues at your school site who were on leave. Thank you for helping those RTI and Substitute teachers who had to take over for them. Thank you for supporting and speaking up for those colleagues who have had a loss in their families. Thank you for honoring those colleagues with whom we have lost. Thank you for showing unity in the midst of a crisis. As we reflect on the many obstacles we have overcome this year, all I can say is “Well Done”. You have shown the strength, fortitude, and drive that many should look up to. Even Through the toughest of moments you did your work and have done it well. Anyone working with you should be proud of what you have accomplished. You are the best group of certificated employees that I have ever had the pleasure to work with. As we come from spring break to welcome yet another change in format, please know that in spite of the newest mountains. You have and will always achieve because the drive and the magnificence are innate in you. Thank you for your service to our children, our community, and our district.
Tamara Fairbanks NMFT President