It’s been at least one full year of this Pandemic. It’s been a year of uncertainty, fears of COVID exposure, racial injustice, community unrest. For our district, this time last year we were just starting to navigate, learn and understand what teaching, connecting and coping online was all about. And even then, it was believed that we would return in just 3 weeks time. Was that ever inaccurate! I was still in the classroom, myself, looking at what skills I had to keep students engaged, what knowledge I had to keep my families connected and informed, and from what I could muster, what actions I could take to keep theirs (and mine) anxiety low.
It has also been a year of sharpening skills using more technology in our teaching practices. Oak Grove educators have pivoted to reach students, connect with students and families, learning to provide a quality educational experience in these challenging circumstances. A year of learning to give grace to each other and ourselves.
With the passage of AB 86, which led to the recent Board decision to return to in-person instruction, we, overall, are returning to our physical rooms for the last several weeks of school. Our Bargaining Committee has been very active in negotiations and in gathering input from you. Their consistency in providing Bargaining Updates after sessions works to ensure that you have the most up to date information. Your participation in completing surveys, attending listening groups, wearing your green shirts, and attending our nurses’ presentations on vaccines and safety on campuses demonstrates your commitment and dedication to our professions, our students and your Union.
Our nurses have also played pivotal roles in bargaining, providing expertise and guidance. They have helped in providing education on the vaccines and on how to be safe on our campuses. We continue to advocate for their place at the District table to continue having them be part of the conversation as experts in their field.
Our Equity and Human Rights Committee has been active during these times. Even though we have sheltered in place, and have continued our work remotely, racism against Blacks and the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities has not stopped. Our EHR team has continued to work for our students and members by having meetings to hold space for discussions and projects that benefit our Oak Grove students, families and each other. They are also active participants in the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee (DEIB). Just recently, they helped co-author the resolution Denouncing Hate Crimes and Bigotry Targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with Board President, Jorge Pacheco Jr. and Board member, Beija Gonzalez.
Likewise, our Membership Engagement Committee has put together activities to bring members together for fun and socializing. The most recent offering was a Paint Night, led by Bernal teacher, Allison Juhasz.
Our collective member actions and our participation in movements helps grow our strength and vitality as a Union. Let’s continue to be more inclusive of each other and to continually work to uplift ALL voices. Our differences work to fortify us when we have respectful dialogue and understanding. Let’s move together as one.
IN UNITY! -Maripaz Berlin, OGEA President