As licensed public-school educators, there are limitations to our first amendment rights. If you choose to speak publicly about your concerns regarding school reopening, it is recommended you keep the following in mind:
- If you are at YOUR school, at a school board meeting, or any gathering at YOUR school, you are likely not able to distinguish yourself as a patron and will be deemed an employee with limited First Amendment rights;
- If you are speaking at a school in your neighborhood but not a school where you are employed, distinguish yourself as a patron, neighbor, parent, community member;
- Avoid addressing the proposed plan specifically and focus on issues related to COVID-19 and health and safety concerns;
- Avoid naming any administrators, supervisors, employees or school board members;
- Avoid assigning blame anywhere;
- Be professional always; be courteous; exercise grace and gratitude;
- Acknowledge the difficulty the local board, administrators, supervisors face in trying to meet the needs of the parents, students and employees
- If you have any questions about what you want to say please consult with your local UniServ Director before speaking.
As stated above, GEA encourages educators to speak out about issues impacting employment and the health and safety of employees and students. This post is not a discouragement of professional and necessary communication with elected leaders. Keep your letters and concerns coming, just be mindful of appropriate guidelines.