Cleveland Heights Teachers Union wants district to delay in-person classes until January

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*Watch our report above on the teachers union in Shaker Heights proposing a similar idea of delaying in-person classes until January.*

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) — The Cleveland Heights Teachers Union is calling for the school district to delay in-person classes until at least January 2021.

Union president Karen Rego announced Thursday that the union, of 520 teachers and staff, is demanding the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education reopen totally online for the first semester of the 2020-21 school year.

“Our teachers and support staff most certainly want to be with their students.  However, beyond the fact COVID 19 cases are spreading at an alarming rate throughout the county and the state, my members have serious concerns about the capacity of the school district to guarantee a safe teaching and learning environment for students and staff,” Rego said in a statement, which she repeated in an interview with Fox 8.

Rego says the decision was made after virtual meetings with the union’s leadership and conducting a webinar for all union members.

“First and foremost our membership has an interest in the safety of students, staff and community and we are recommending that Cleveland Heights – University Heights City Schools begin the 2020-2021 school year remote and remain remote through at least January 2021,” Rego stated.

The current reopening plan offers families a choice.  The district is offering remote learning, or all-day, every day in-school instruction for elementary students, and there is a blended instruction model for Kindergarten through 12th grade.

The union cited several reasons for their demand.

They believe the district cannot provide adequate PPE for all students and staff, and they believe mandating that all students wear masks is impossible and impractical.

Many teachers also feel it will be tough for students to social distance in the classroom, hallways, playgrounds, bathrooms and other areas.  The union also stated they do not trust that buildings will be properly cleaned, and believe there are inadequate  quarantine spaces and protocols for staff and students.  They are also concerned about the safety of immunocompromised  students and staff that are at high risk.

Superintendent Liz Kirby released the following statement:

“The CH-UH City School District leadership recognizes and takes seriously the concerns expressed by the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union. District leaders are working to create a reopening plan that, above all else, is safe for all students and staff. This draft plan has been informed by various committees of teachers, support staff, administrators, and community partners, as well as the current (and ever-changing) status of COVID-19 in Cuyahoga County. This means, of course, that what our school reopening looks like on September 2 could very well differ from what our draft plans call for today.

We sincerely thank the CHTU for this feedback. We will continue our discussions with all of our collective bargaining units and work together to create the safest, most comprehensive plan possible for the 2020-2021 school year.”

Union president Rego says a meeting is scheduled with the school district superintendent on Friday.

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