People in the United States and countries around the world are suffering serious illness and death in a deadly and highly contagious coronavirus pandemic. The best medical advice at this stage to decrease the spread of the disease is for people to remain in “social distance” (6 feet) from each other until a treatment or vaccine is found. It is hoped that people will gradually be able to return to work, school and public places. However, there is no evidence to suggest that groups as large as the NEA Representative Assembly will be safe to convene in the next several months.
A virtual meeting is our safest option given the uncertain health situation and how long social distancing rules will continue. But a virtual meeting will have its limitations.
A typical RA convenes between 8,000 and 10,000 delegates. Available technology cannot guarantee that we can replicate thousands of delegates conducting rigorous debate on hundreds of issues virtually. Further, due to the differences among delegates in their access to sophisticated technology, and reliable WIFI and phone service, NEA could not guarantee every delegate the ability to fully participate in a virtual RA debate and vote.
Because of the limitations of virtual debate and voting, we are unable to replicate a complete RA virtually. We are restricted in the types of actions we can put before delegates to important presentations, limited debate and final votes that can be delivered and returned by mail ballots.
Therefore, the proposal to the NEA Board of Directors was:
- Convene the 2020 RA virtually and not in-person
- Limit business, presentations and debate
- Vote by paper, mail-in ballots
- Postpone all other business to the 2021 RA
Outcome of Board Action
- The board passed by 99% the first motion to move the 2020 RA currently scheduled in Atlanta to a virtual convening with a limited agenda and votes taken by mail ballot, given the on-going global pandemic of coronavirus infections resulting in a growing number of COVID-19 illnesses and deaths and the medical advisory against large group gatherings and non-essential travel on commercial transportation.
- The board passed by 99% the 2nd motion to suspend the NEA Standing Rules in their entirety for the duration of the 2020 virtual convening of the Representative Assembly and adopted temporary Rules of Procedure for the purpose of conducting business at the emergency virtual convening of the 2020 Representative Assembly being held on July 2-3, 2020.