FOX5 EXPERTS: CCEA leader on what teachers want before heading to campus

The leader of CCEA, the valley's largest teacher union, about what teachers want to see done before they head back to campus.
Updated: Aug. 6, 2020 at 6:23 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - John Vellardita is the leader of Clark County Education Association, the valley’s largest teacher union, about what teachers want to see done before they head back to campus.

“I want to make it clear to all your viewers educators want to teach. They want to get down to the business of teaching 320,000 kids under the challenge of COVID-19 or if things return to normal,” Vellardita said.

“But the bottom line is -- things have to be safe.”

Though the Clark County School District is starting the school year with complete online learning, there are a lot of valley teachers that are returning to the classroom.

And while it’s important that we figure out a safe way to keep kids educated, teachers and support staff who are responsible for their education can’t be forgotten.

FEVEN: On Sunday, the teacher’s union sent a letter to state officials that really presses the issue of safety. You all say that unless Nevada lawmakers address the key issues of safety and protection during this special session, CCEA cannot support teachers returning to schools.

VELLARDITA: It’s very important that with the escalation of COVID-19, it’s very important to have a couple things in place. One – a very robust safety testing, contract tracing program in place before anybody returns to these schools. These are very confined environments and that’s an incubator of transmission of this virus. So we want to make sure that’s in place. That requires funding. There’s a plan that’s been drafted but that requires funding. We’re asking lawmakers, the governor in particular, to act on it.

And then the second issue is liability. There has to be a presumption that if an educator of staff person is in a building and they contract COVID-19 that one, it’s work-related because they contracted it on the job, so it’s workers comp and that employee would be eligible for that and two, if the school district or a principal in a building doesn’t take the appropriate safety precautions and implement a program that exposes not just educators but other staff, then they should be held liable and there should be a remedy under tort law.

FEVEN: This letter was sent to the lawmakers on Sunday. Have you heard back from the governor or any of our other legislators?

VELLARDITA: We have heard back. We heard that I think they take this issue serious. Whether or not something around what we’re proposing gets addressed in this session still remains to be seen. But I’ll tell you, we’re very firm that unless there’s some kind of robust safety and testing program in place, we have a lot of serious concerns recommending anyone returning to these buildings. We want people to return to these buildings. Teachers love to teach. They want to continue doing that but they have to be safe. And there has to be a program in place and there has to be protections for any employee. Whether it’s a teacher or a bus driver or a custodian. There has to be protections for them.


FOX5 continue to stay on school watch for you and keep our eyes and ears up in Carson City to see whether the union’s demands are met during this special session.