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Shaker Heights Teachers Want Assurances Before Returning To The Classroom

The Shaker Heights School District plans on transitioning back to in-person instruction in late October. An official start date has yet to be announced and in the meantime, the teachers’ union says there are still many “outstanding issues” to be resolved before members are willing to return to the classroom.

The Shaker Heights’ Teachers Association (SHTA) sent a letter to the district administration, Board of Education and the community this week with eight items of concern. Testing and contact tracing protocols haven’t been established, SHTA hasn’t been assured the federal recommendation of 6 feet of social distancing will be followed, no promise of N95 mask availability has been made, HVAC systems for proper ventilation haven’t been installed in seven of the school system’s eight buildings and teachers who get sick will not be permitted to teach virtually.

“Class size limits have not been established. No single-occupancy rooms have been guaranteed,” SHTA President John Morris told ideastream. “So, in other words, if I go in to teach virtually and I'm sharing a room, I'm going to be teaching virtually with a mask on, which seems counterproductive.”

The SHTA is also concerned that with the flu season around the corner, it is incumbent on the school district to have a flu vaccine protocol.

Morris the district and union representatives hadn’t met since early August to discuss safety plans and the union was only recently notified of the district's plans for the students’ return to campus. The letter should not be seen as a threat to the district, Morris said, but rather as a public call for the district and union to work in collaboration to resolve these safety issues.

“We're not saying that we are going to take any action,” Morris said. “We just would like to see direct published responses to these issues before we go back to school. 

The Shaker Heights School District told ideastream in a written statement that it “remains focused on bringing our students and staff back for in-person learning in a safe and responsible manner, just as nearly every other school district in Cuyahoga County is doing. We have been collaborating with our faculty and staff along with other stakeholders on our plans since the summer.”

Earlier this week, district officials invited community members to the Sept. 22 board of education work session to discuss in-person instruction and safety.


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