CLEVELAND (WJW) — The Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s plan to begin in-person hybrid learning is in jeopardy after the Cleveland Teachers Union (CTU) said members will not return to classrooms citing safety concerns.
Union president Shari Obrenski said safe return plans should not be abandoned to meet a “subjective political decree.”
“This is really more of unrealistic expectations put on us by the governor and not allowing for a practical and safe reopening,” she said.
The Cleveland Teachers Union represents nearly 5,000 members and said they will return to in-person learning when it’s safe but until then they will continue educating children remotely.
Governor Mike DeWine called out the CMSD school district when it was not clear if they would meet his goal of starting in-person instruction by the start of March. The governor tweeted about the district last week and asked if “we should stop the vaccinations.” CMSD staff vaccinations are still underway.
“This is not a battle between CMSD and the Cleveland Teachers Union this is the unfortunate arbitrary imposition of a timeline that has nothing to do with the reality of the conditions of our community and of our schools,” said Obrenski.
The district’s hybrid learning transition will be completed during three phases beginning March 1 through March 15. The majority of staff will formally return to buildings after working remotely on March 8 according to the CMSD CEO Eric Gordon.
“His hand quite frankly was pushed by the governor,” Obrenski said of Gordon’s plan.
She said the most serious concerns are the continued coronavirus cases in Cuyahoga County and city of Cleveland as well as ventilations systems inside school classrooms. Obrenski said safety standards including adequate ventilation should be in place in all classrooms before they return.
CMSD has not responded to a request for comment regarding CTU’s statements. The Cleveland Teachers Union is a local affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.