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National Education Association To Host 2020 Representative Assembly Virtually Due To COVID-19 Pandemic


WASHINGTON - April 20, 2020 -

National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García released the following statement after the NEA Board of Directors voted to hold the 2020 NEA Representative Assembly virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic:

“During these difficult times, our first concern is the health and welfare of our students, our schools, our members, and their communities. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues impacting all of us in profound ways, educators continue to be on the frontlines engaging their students, making and delivering school meals to ensure no one goes hungry during this crisis, driving WiFi hotspots on school buses to try to bridge the digital divide, and helping the parents who now better understand what it is to teach their children.

“Public health experts and doctors agree that the best way to stop the spread of this deadly disease is for people to continue social distancing while the country massively ramps up testing, tracing, and social isolation among those who test positive for COVID-19. So far, we have only tested roughly 4 million people in this country, despite predictions by medical experts that if left unchecked, at least 50 percent of the U.S. population will be infected and up to 1.6 million will die. Given that, there is no evidence to suggest that groups as large as the NEA Representative Assembly — known as the world's largest democratic deliberative body with nearly 10,000 delegates annually — will be safe to convene in the next several months.

“NEA’s Board of Directors has decided to convert the 2020 NEA RA into a virtual meeting, which is our safest option. We cannot take the risk of educators becoming infected and spreading the virus to students, their families and colleagues, or their communities. We look forward to the 2021 RA, where we can hopefully once again come together to set policy and chart the direction of NEA business.

“This crisis has once again shown our nation how America’s public schools not only educate the leaders of tomorrow, but serve as a heartbeat for our communities across this nation. Public schools are the economic engines of tens of thousands of communities that not only provide education, but also jobs and community-sustaining benefits for all Americans. That is why NEA will continue engaging our members and advocating in support of our students, educators, and communities in support of stronger public schools for all of America’s students and communities.”

Background:

We understand that a virtual meeting will have its limitations as available technology cannot guarantee that we can replicate thousands of delegates conducting rigorous debate on hundreds of issues virtually. Further, due to the differences among delegates in their access to the technology, reliable WiFi and phone service, NEA could not guarantee every delegate the ability to fully participate in a virtual RA debate and vote.

Therefore, because of the limitations of virtual debate and voting, we are restricted in the types of actions we can put before delegates to time-sensitive presentations, limited debate and final votes that can be delivered and returned by mail ballots.

Contact: Eric Jotkoff  
(202) 822-7355, ejotkoff@nea.org