CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Cleveland Metropolitan School District rolled out a three-phase plan to bring the district’s students back into school on a hybrid learning plan, but as it stands now, the teachers are not buying into starting that plan.
Shari Obrenski is the union president and has real doubts it will be safe for teachers to resume some in-school instruction on March 1, the date the district’s plan is scheduled to begin.
“I honestly believe it is unlikely that that will occur unless we are able to work together in the next five working days to ensure our schools are safe to re-open,” Obrenski said.
Obrenksi said the union wants the district to follow CDC guidelines regarding COVID safety issues in all school buildings and that Eric Gordon, the school’s CEO, is aware of ongoing concerns the union has, specifically ventilation issues, the union believes still exist.
“They must be resolved before we will be able to return in person in the building,” Obrenski said.
Obrenksi was critical of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and said his timeline for a return to school was arbitrary.
Also, she believes the governor has not taken into consideration that some teachers have not yet received their 1st COVID vaccine due to supply delays, and Obrenski wonders why, in response, the governor has not adjusted his back-to-school timeline.
“I think he’s absolutely putting too much pressure on the district, unrealistic pressure,” she said.
There is plenty at stake as the district tries to make its way through a difficult period as everyone knows the students are better off in school, but the union believes that can’t happen at the expense of teacher safety.
And teacher safety, Obrenski said, is the reason the teachers say they are, for the moment, not prepared to return.
“I wish we could say that we were, but we aren’t,” Obrenski said.
While there are multiple issues to work through before the teachers are prepared to return, Obrenski was equally quick to point out that the cooperation and communication between the district and the union remain ongoing and positive, which should provide hope that the issues can be resolved.