To: [Activist Name]
Subject: CFT Response to Board’s Decision on Return to In-Person Instruction
From: Cincinnati Federation of Teachers/CFOP
Reply To: firstname.lastname@example.org
A message from President Julie Sellers:
We want you to know that we were shocked when the Superintendent and Board of Education decided to go against their own commitment to data-driven, science-driven decision making, and return all staff and students back into in-person learning while we are at the worst level of community spread of the deadly COVID virus since the pandemic began.
Last night at the Board of Education meeting the Superintendent and Board of Education once again doubled-down on their decision and reaffirmed their decision to re-open in spite of the Hamilton County Health Department extending the purple designation of danger due to COVID.
We want you to know that we are doing everything humanly possible to fight for the health and safety of you, of the students, and the families and communities we serve.
We are doing the following:
1) We are exploring all legal options including injunctive relief to compel the Superintendent and Board of Education to reinstate their original guidelines for a safe reopening. What this means is that CFT would either (1) ask the court to order the administrator of workers’ compensation to declare CPS buildings unsafe and prevent them from reopening to in-person learning until all personnel is vaccinated; or (2) ask the court to issue an order maintaining the status quo – remote instruction – until an arbitrator can decide whether reopening to in-person learning, before all personnel is vaccinated or while Hamilton County is in the Purple category, violates the health and safety provisions of the CBA.
2) We are offering information on members’ leave options, including sick leave. Many of you have shared with us that you are unable to return to work because you are ill, pregnant, or have been exposed to COVID. The collective bargaining agreement (p. 35) gives teachers the right to use sick leave “for absence due to illness, injury, and exposure to contagious diseases,” and for absence due to illness or injury of an immediate family member. Under the CBA, “immediate family member includes parent, step-parent, child, spouse, sister, brother, grandparent, grandchild, parent-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, son-in-law, aunt, uncle, nephew and niece.” If you use sick leave for one of these reasons, you may be asked to provide a medical explanation or physician statement.
3) We are continuing to encourage you to convene Chapter Meetings in your buildings with your Building Representatives to share your concerns with the Board of Education.
4) We filed a public records request with the District seeking all documents and communications referring to the District’s commitment to return to in-person learning as a pre-requisite or condition for educators and school staff to receive vaccines during Phase 1b of Ohio’s vaccine distribution plan.
5) Our office has been receiving calls and emails not only from our members but also from parents and the community. Remember, we have a CFT Parent Support Line where parents can express their concerns about COVID safety issues. They can share their concerns using this form: https://tinyurl.com/CFTParentSupportLine.
6) Remember we also have our own CFT COVID Safety Report for you can use at his link: https://tinyurl.com/CFTCovidReportForm. We do not share any identifying information from this form. Please report any breaches in protocol in any buildings using this form.
Please remember to not post negative comments towards the Superintendent or Board but you may always make comments about policy which is an item of common concern.
We understand there is a lot of anxiety and frustration about this situation, and we are hopeful that in our collective efforts we can ensure safe working conditions for all of us. We have been working harder than ever to continue to teach the City’s children. Of course, we all miss our kids, and pine for the day when we can all be safely in-person again. But we should not be asked to risk our lives to do so. We are so close to a vaccine, and to force us to return to unsafe working conditions is wrong.