Parents of students across the state are making plans for what to do if/when their child’s school is closed on Thursday, April 26 and possibly longer in response to the statewide #RedForEd teacher walk-out. Here is a parents’ guide to help answer some common questions.
Why are teachers walking out of school?
A majority of teachers voted to walk-out of classrooms to protest low teacher pay and per-pupil funding said leaders of Arizona Educators United and Arizona Education Association during a press conference on Thursday, April 21.
While Gov. Doug Ducey’s proposal would to raise teacher salaries by 9 percent this year and build on that each year until teacher pay is 20 percent more by school year 2020, it does not raise per-pupil funding to 2008’s pre-recession levels, provide competitive pay for all education support professionals, develop a salary plan that provides an annual raise, and halt tax cuts until Arizona’s per-pupil funding reaches the national average – all key demands Arizona Educators United made during their rally at the Capitol on March 28, 2018.
Previously, teachers held walk-ins before or after school to gain parent, student and community support while not disrupting students’ instruction in the classroom.
Where will I find out if school is closed?
As of 2:30 p.m. on Monday, 32 school districts and charter school networks have let parents know that they will close school on Thursday in response to the walkouts, but many schools are still making that determination and will let parents know later today.
As always the first place to check to see if your child’s school will be closed is to go to their official school and district website or social media like Facebook or Twitter pages, and then check your email or phone for messages from your school about their plan and how you will be updated over the course of the next week.
Also, please make sure that the schools your children attend have your most up-to-date contact information so you receive these important notifications.
For a list of district and charter school that will be updated throughout the week, you can also check this article on azcentral.com.
Do I need to call my child in absent that day?
No, during a school closure you do not need to call the school to let them know your child will not be attending that day.
Will the school year be extended?
Arizona law requires that the school instruction be offered for at least 180 days each school year or for a prescribed number of instructional hours depending on the grade level.
That means that in many or most cases, the school year could be extended to make up for the days school was closed during the walkouts, just as it would be for days students are sent home because of a lack of air-conditioning, power or water at the school or for snow days in northern Arizona.
Again, the best place to find out what your school’s plan is to make up those days is through its communications channels to parents listed in the sections above.
Will my kids still be able to get school breakfast or lunch?
Students may be able to get breakfast or lunch at their school or at an alternate site like a food bank, churches or other partners who are part of the Summer Food Service program.
Once again, you’ll need to check your school, district or charter’s website or your email and phone messages from your school to know what the plan will be.
If a school is open and allowing students on campus and are able to serve reimbursable meals that meet all programmatic requirements, then the school is able to claim those meals as part of the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs and can expect to be reimbursed for those meals served during the anticipated teacher walk out as well as any make-up days that are included at the end of the school year, according to an e-mail response from the Arizona Department of Education to Denise Lowell-Britt, an attorney with Udall Shumway. Sack meals that are not intended to be consumed in the food-service area may not be claimed for reimbursement.
Schools serving meals at an alternate site will need to follow this guidance memo and contact the Community Nutrition Program at (602) 542-8700 and press 1 for more information about participating in the Summer Food Program.
Health and Nutrition Services has been providing guidance on the USDA Child Nutrition Programs to all of the schools in Arizona that participate and will be releasing a memo with additional details and resources for schools on this subject.
Will before or after school care be available?
In many cases, there will be no before- or after-school childcare. Once again, please check your school’s preferred method of communicating with parents and the website for details about the plan at your child’s school.
The Valley of the Sun YMCA has offered short-term child care, and parents should check valleyymca.org for unfolding details.
Some Boys & Girls Clubs and other child care providers may also be able to help, but call first to find out when, where and how much the service will cost.
How will the walk-out affect graduation, prom, sporting events, IB exams or AP exams?
Most schools are staying that graduation ceremonies will be held as planned and that diplomas will be issued when all requirements are met. But again, please check your school’s preferred communication method to be sure.
Many schools are saying that proms will be held as planned, but again, please check your email, phone messages and other communications you receive from the school to be sure.
Varsity levels sporting events and practices could continue as planned if they are appropriately staffed, so check with coaches and your sport’s website to be sure. But freshman, junior varsity and all elementary athletic practices and events might be cancelled.
If there is enough supervision, IB and AP exams will go on as expected, but if there is not, most districts will make preparations for students to take the exams at another site that day as planned, but to know the specifics you’ll need to check your school’s website and your email and phone for information.
What does the law say about a teacher walk-out?
Arizona law does not expressly prohibit public employees from striking or expressly allow public employees to strike, according to a brief prepared by Jenifer MacLennan with Phoenix law firm Gust Rosenfeld PLC.
But two Arizona Attorney General opinions indicate there is no right to strike.
Arizona is a right to work state where an employee can be terminated from employment if they fail to show up at work, but if a large number of teachers walkout, there is no way the school districts or the school boards would engage in mass terminations, because the state already has a teacher shortage and this would make it worse, according to a KTAR News 92.3 FM article.
Does Arizona Education United have GoFundMe pages?
Arizona Educators United, the grassroots group said Sunday that all donations collected through a GoFundMe page created to benefit the group would be returned, and that the group was not affiliated with any active fundraising pages, instructing supporters to ignore any new GoFundMe requests, according to an article in The Arizona Republic.