The Fairfax Education Association (FEA) is a teachers’ union in Fairfax County, Virginia which represents 4,000 teachers and staff out of the 25,000 total employees in the district.  In 2020, the FEA drew attention for opposing any reopening of the Fairfax County Public School system in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The FEA has opposed all in-person schooling since June 2020. The organization has led a petition to keep schooling online until a vaccine or COVID-19 treatment is widely distributed and has asked its members to call in sick as a form of protest. 
The FEA has a political action committee, the Fairfax County Political Action Committee for Education, or FEA PAC. 
In 1920, the Richmond and Fairfax County school districts established the FEA as a labor union for teachers. The school districts required union membership for all public school teachers in the county, taking union dues directly from teacher paychecks. 
In 1946, the FEA separated from the school district and began to operate as an independent union under its first president, Katherine Hopper.  In 1956, the organization established the Fairfax Association Education Federal Credit Union (currently known as the Apple Federal Credit Union), which has grown to provide financial services to 89,000 union members today. 
The FEA expanded considerably in the 1970s and purchased an 8.5-acre tract of land in 1970 to construct a headquarters. The organization – negotiated for expanded healthcare benefits, maternity leave, a sick leave bank, duty-free lunch, and other benefits for its members. 
In 1977, the Virginia Supreme Court declared government worker collective bargaining unconstitutional. FEA has blamed this decision and the political atmosphere cultivated by former President Ronald Reagan on alleged setbacks faced by the union throughout the 1980s and 1990s, including the evaluation of teachers and the implementation of performance-based pay initiatives. 
Response to COVID-19 Pandemic
Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the FEA has supported keeping school online and limiting all in-person interactions. On June 23, 2020, after months of digital schooling, the Fairfax County Public School district announced its intentions to restart in-person schooling in the fall of 2020 and distributed a survey to parents and teachers asking for their preferences between in-person and online schooling. The FEA joined the two other Fairfax teachers’ unions, the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers and the Association of Fairfax Professional Educators, in condemning the district’s actions. The unions jointly issued a public statement demanding that the county negotiate with the unions on future reopening plans. 
Early in the summer, Fairfax County announced plans to begin the 2020-2021 school year in a virtual-only manner but continued to push for in-person openings as soon as possible. The county made multiple proposals for in-person schooling guidelines, but they were resisted by unions several times over the summer. In September 2020, the county officially announced that guidelines would be drawn up for in-person schooling to be implemented after the start of the school year. Over the following month, Fairfax County received 2,200 requests by teachers and staff to remain out of school for health reasons and granted 1,000 of those requests. 
On October 8, the FEA asked its members to call Fairfax County officials and demand that its schools continue digital teaching until all Fairfax County officials resumed their own meetings in-person. 
On October 9, FEA president Kimberly Adams was quoted in the Washington Post accusing Fairfax County of “strongarming” teachers and being willing to “sacrifice staff” for the sake of in-person classrooms. Adams claimed that 50-100 teachers had already asked to resign or retire if in-person schooling returned, and that hundreds or thousands more could quit. 
On October 19, Fairfax schools announced their guidelines for the return of limited in-person classes. All students and staff members would be required to wear masks, and students were asked to attend school only two days per week.  Teachers and staff members were asked to make a decision on whether they would be willing to work in-person by October 30. 
A few days later, the FEA organized a petition among Fairfax County teachers, parents, and students asking the Fairfax Public School System to keep its classrooms closed at least throughout the entire 2020-2021 school year, if not until a COVID-19 vaccine or treatment became widely available. If in-person school continued, the petition requested that air filters be installed in every room; that all staff members be periodically tested for COVID; and that all teachers, staff members, and students would have the option of continuing digital attendance.
On October 27, the FEA recommended that all of its members call in sick to take a “mental health day” to protest in-person schooling. 
On its website, the FEA has committed to supporting any member who fears for his or her safety and refuses to go to a school building, even for non-classroom work.