Union urges Fairfax County teachers to take 'mental health day' on Wednesday

A teachers' union in Virginia's largest school district is urging members to call in sick Wednesday for a “mental health day” as they ponder how they will respond to a gradual return to in-person learning.

Fairfax Education Association President Kimberly Adams said teachers need the mental health day because of the stress they face with a looming Oct. 30 deadline to say whether they will return to the classroom when called upon, seek a leave of absence, or resign.

READ MORE: Fairfax County Public Schools students to return to in-person instruction in November

“We are drawing a line by protecting our members,” she said.

The union has urged that school remain fully virtual for the entire 2020-21 school year because of safety concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic. It represents about 4,000 teachers and staff in the Fairfax County school system — the nation's 10th largest — which employs almost 25,000.

The vast majority of Fairfax County Public Schools' 187,000 students are currently attending fully virtual classes. Superintendent Scott Brabrand has outlined a plan that would have students return in stages through late January to two days a week of in-school learning.

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He has accelerated the timeline slightly on request from the school board, which has asked him to come up with an even earlier timetable.

School system spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell said FCPS is “aware of the possibility of a sick out and making plans to ensure all scheduled classes have teachers.”