From October 13th to October 16th, the teachers who belong to Gahanna Jefferson Education Association (GJEA) went on strike.
Hybrid learning was scheduled to take place beginning that Tuesday, October 13th, and kindergarteners, sixth graders, and freshmen all prepared to go back to the school on October 7th and 8th. Despite this preparation, many students and community members remained unsure of the reasoning behind the strike.
“We have not settled on a contract that we feel provides a safe and equitable learning environment for our students,” GJEA Spokesperson Betsy Baker said. “We feel we need to stand up and make sure that our students get what they deserve.”
Many other teachers that are a part of the GJEA had additional reasons as well. Several other teachers also feel that the hybrid model proposed by the Board of Education does not allow them to fairly and equitably teach all of their students depending on which learning model they chose.
The members of the GJEA picketed on the streets outside Gahanna Lincoln High School from October 13th to October 16th. Many students also showed up to support them.
“I’m here for the people that have shaped me into the person that I am today,” Student Council President Jason Raymond said.
Raymond is not alone in his support of the teachers; many students who came to the picket lines wanted to stand up for their teachers.
“It’s about time we gave back to them,” junior Mary Kate Gebhart said. “Our teachers are a big support system for us.”
As of Sunday, October 18th, the Board of Education and GJEA have reached a tentative agreement that would get students back to school starting Monday, October 19th, although both the Board and GJEA are sending out mixed messages.
Shortly before the email was sent out to parents regarding students coming back to school, an email was sent out from President of the Gahanna-Jefferson Board of Education Beryl Piccolantonio. It is highly critical of the GJEA, claiming that they changed part of the tentative agreement between the two parties.
“This action on the part of GJEA has caused significant damage in the relationship between the bargaining teams, compromised trust and stalled mediation,” Piccolantonio said.
The GJEA responded in turn, with a similar tone.
“Today’s District update to parents includes inaccurate information and violates the law,” the GJEA said via their Instagram account. “However, we are focused today on getting an agreement rather than engaging in a war of words.”
The back and forth between the District and the GJEA has left some parents and students confused, but they have currently reached a tentative agreement, and distance learning will resume Monday, October 19th as of current negotiations.
More details regarding hybrid learning have yet to be released.