Fairfax Teachers Win $32.7 Million Bonus for 'Extraordinary' Work During Pandemic

Virginia's largest school district did not fully reopen for the 2020-21 academic year

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August 31, 2021

Virginia's largest school district is paying teachers $32.7 million in bonuses for their "extraordinary contributions and sacrifices" during the coronavirus pandemic, which they spent primarily working from home.

Fairfax County Public Schools allocated federal coronavirus relief funds to reward teachers, bus drivers, and other staff, school board member Ricardy Anderson announced Friday. District teachers lobbied successfully to keep schools closed even after it was safe to reopen. Fairfax County did not return to a full in-person schedule during the 2020-2021 school year.

Dee O'Neal, a Fairfax County parent who leads the Open FCPS Coalition, said not all teachers deserve bonuses.

"The union members who pushed to stay home are not deserving of this bonus," O'Neal told the Washington Free Beacon. She said bonuses were appropriate for teachers who pushed to reopen schools and "whose voices were drowned out by the lazy asses who wanted to stay home."

Fairfax County Federation of Teachers was one of many teachers' unions across the country that used the pandemic for personal gain. The group secured a virtual option for all teachers during the 2020-2021 school year and demanded "proactive school closures" as part of its demands to reopen.

Fairfax Education Association president Kimberly Adams said at a January school board meeting that students should receive the coronavirus vaccine before returning to the classroom, though the FDA only approved the Pfizer vaccine for students over the age of 12 in May.

The Fairfax County School Board approved the district's plan to spend the $188.6 million it received in federal Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief funds in July. In addition to the onetime bonuses for teachers, the district will use the money to fund coronavirus mitigation strategies and address pandemic-related learning loss. The district will also direct relief funds to increase bus driver wages to $22.91 per hour.