Shaker Heights students to return back to classrooms next month, teachers express concern

Coronavirus

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) — The Shaker Heights Teachers’ Association is voicing its concerns after union President John Morris says the district recently told teachers to return to their buildings on October 12. 

“No advance notice, no discussions and actually very limited discussion after that announcement on Tuesday the 15th,” said Morris.

The district announced in their online newsletter that they’re preparing for a phased-in return to in-person and hybrid learning as Cuyahoga County remains at a Level 2 for more than four weeks. 

“We need formal assurance here,” he said.

Morris says the association’s executive board had been meeting collaboratively with the superintendent’s reopening committee throughout the summer, but there were still concerns that they feel did not have a concrete response.

The 470 member group decided to author an open letter following the meeting to address those issues.

“We still don’t have HVAC testing completed for the district to show the quality of air. Whether or not we have ventilation, whether or not we have the kind of recommended filters to you know maintain circulated air,” said Morris. 

Other concerns listed include testing and contact tracing protocols, guarantees for six feet of social distancing and smaller class sizes.

In addition, there are worries about the flu season.

“We’re gonna be starting school and heading back in the middle of the onset of flu season. There are no articulated plans to offer flu shots to faculty and staff or students before they enter,” he said.

Morris says after talking with the superintendent on Friday, there has been some movement and the HVAC testing is underway.

He was also told there will be n95 masks available and has heard there is a plan for contact tracing.

But Morris says there are no assurances yet for the distancing, class sizes and single teacher occupancy for classrooms. 

“We just have to keep pushing for these concrete answers for our teachers, for our students, for our parents, for our community,” he said.

The district released the following statement:

“The Shaker Heights City School District 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 on our plans with our faculty and staff, along with other stakeholders, since the summer. “  

“It’s never easy for us to write a letter like this. Our intention as an association is to be collaborative,” said Morris.

But he added in this unique time, actions that are outside typical bounds are called for. 

“We’re still not there yet, we’re still not there yet,” he said.

Morris says they don’t plan to strike or stop work in any way but they want these issues to be addressed. 

There is a board work session on Zoom on the 22nd that the community has been invited to by the district and he hopes parents — like himself — will ask the same questions.

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