BRECKSVILLE, Ohio (WOIO) - The Brecksville-Broadview Heights City School district is ready for students to return to the classroom full-time on October 26th, but the teachers' union argues the decision is not safe.
Bonnie Monteleone is the President of the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Education Association, “People are making life and death decisions for themselves and it shouldn’t be this way, it shouldn’t have to be this way.”
Teachers and students have actually been back in the classroom since September 8. But they’ve been working under a hybrid model. Half of the class is in the classroom two days a week, and the other half of the class is there two other days during the week. But with a full class, teachers say there won’t be room to social distance.
“Let’s be clear when they’re talking about having 6-feet between kids, we’re not going to have a foot between kids in some of the learning situations,” Monteleone said.
In August some parents held a rally in favor of their children returning to in-person classes five days a week. The Superintendent of Schools Joelle Magyar says a new survey of three-thousand parents found they were 80% in favor of their children returning to school fulltime.
Superintendent Magyar tells 19 News, "We have several safety protocols that are now in place that we’ve been doing since we’ve had kids arrive on September 8. They have worked very well – we’ve had no outbreak of any virus whatsoever. We had one on our website. One staff member that came in with COVID-19 contracted in a previous location. Not in our schools, and so we’ve had zero cases and have been back with kids since September 8th.
The superintendent also notes that safety measures put in place in the district not only protect the students but the teachers and staff.
“In addition to mandatory masks, we have created one-way hallways in some of our buildings so that we limit travel. We have kids eating in their classrooms so they’re not sitting in the cafeteria and gathering, the schools are also professionally cleaned every week and we have purchased every individual student a tri-fold plastic barrier that they can put on their desks,” Superintendent Magyar said.
But the teachers' union says the district is bursting at the seams argue the district is bursting at the seams with packed classrooms, and they say that puts everyone at risk.
“The CDC has now come out and said aerosol is potentially a problem. And we have buildings where our ventilation is to open the windows. So once we’re in the months where we aren’t opening those windows there’s a concern about the quality of ventilation we’re going to have in those spaces,” Monteleone said.
The union also says they are returning to the classroom full-time when it is cold and flu season with no way to know if a student is ill unless they stay home. The teachers' say this is all happening with too many unresolved issues.
The superintendent tells 19 News they have accommodated all requests from teachers who ask to stay at home and teach virtually. The district also says families have the option of keeping their children at home if they’re worried about the risk of coronavirus.
According to the union, they are hoping they can discuss the issues with the board and reach some common ground.