What Do Our Local Educators Need? CEA President Explains


Camas, WA — Last week, several parents expressed frustrations with the Camas School Board about how students are faring under pandemic rules, but how are teachers faring and what do they need?

Lacamas Magazine asked Camas Education Association President, Shelley Houle, several questions about what local educators need.

Question: What are your thoughts, as president of the CEA, about what many parents are saying about masks, the equity programs, and critical race theory?  

Answer: I have empathy for all parents in our district who have struggled with how the pandemic has impacted them. Many of CEA’s members are parents with school-aged children, too.  Our agreement for this year is mainly that our district follow state and public health guidelines. We stand for the safety and health of all our staff and students. Despite numerous COVID-19 exposures, there have only been two outbreaks in our district. Mitigation protocols are working to decrease the spread of the virus in our schools. As for equity, CEA supports the work done in our district and are committed to seeing and serving all our students.

Question: Do you feel the school board is hearing the CEA’s concerns about teachers being in the classroom? 

Answer: YES. They have been very responsive to any concerns I have brought forward. With ever-changing state and public health guidelines, it’s been important for us to work closely together to navigate those changes. I want to give a shout-out to many of our special education staff who have been working in-person over last summer and from September on. Gradually the percentage of students served in-person has grown to where we are at today with most students on campus. Many members reach out to me to share how their confidence in the safety protocols has increased. Are there still teachers concerned? Of course. Many of them care for aging parents or have health conditions. The combination of vaccinations and protocols like social distancing and masks create a safer workplace–a Union tenet across all professions.

Question: What is your stance on COVID-19 vaccinations?

Answer: Teachers need all eligible folks to get vaccinated!!!  It is unsettling to work in-person knowing the rates are so high (265/100,000). This isn’t just about teachers. Think of grocery store and restaurant workers, too. We are relying on mitigation strategies at work, but we have no control what happens outside the school day. 

Question: What are the top things teachers need right now?

Answer: Educators need acceptance for having clear boundaries between work and their personal lives. So many of my peers work 10-12 hours a day and take work home on the weekends. Most are working as efficiently as they can, but the workload can be overwhelming at times. 

Educators need partnership and support from families. This can make such a big difference in students’ lives.

Educational laws and funding that are student-centered with emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Universal Internet Access is one example that could have made remote learning smoother for all.

Time! Time to plan, teach, assess, reflect, intervene, collaborate, call, mail, meet, sanitize, and–most importantly, time to build positive relationships with students.

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