Fellow PAT Educators:
Your bargaining team met with PPS on November 13th and November 19th [Part 1, Part 2, Part 3]. Although there have not been any new tentative agreements to come out of those sessions, both teams did make some significant headway on issues.
On November 13th, the PAT presented a proposal regarding working conditions for Limited In-Person Instruction (LIPI), and then went on a “tour” of Woodmere Elementary School. PPS wanted to demonstrate the efforts that have been taken to make Woodmere ready for Hybrid instruction. The result of the tour was interesting to both teams.
To begin with, your PAT team was impressed with the efforts of building administration and PPS Facilities workers to get Woodmere as ready as it could be. The building was sufficiently clean, marked for proper distance, and administrators were working on protocols so that students might safely function in a building setting.
At the same time, it was apparent that even with those efforts, the building was far, far from ready to have students enter the building safely and engage in meaningful learning. Issues about the entry of students, access to restrooms, hallway behavior, lunch room capability, etc., clearly demonstrated that students would be forced to function like little machines to be able to keep proper distancing as well as continually wear masks and follow hand-washing protocols. Even with the efforts of the building staff, the reality of COVID-19 makes it clear that a safe in-person environment does not yet exist.
Most surprising of all was the District’s understandable, but inadequate, response to building air-exchange systems. When your bargaining team asked representatives from Facilities what the air filtration standards were, we were told that “the standards are what the building heating and cooling system will allow.” In other words, there are no district-wide standards. Instead, the standard for each building is to “do the best it can” to provide clean air to a room in a building. Needless to say, that is not an acceptable or scientific standard for air quality, and your PAT team has made that clear to PPS.
On November 19th the two teams met again and discussed the District’s counter-proposal to PAT LIPI safety demands. A clear difference between the two groups is that PPS wants to be able to require a professional educator to work in-person with students (if they can’t find a volunteer), and PAT’s position requires that members work in-person with students on a voluntary-only basis.
Your PAT team has made a few issues clear. One is that we want educators to be able to choose to work in-person or to remain working in a CDL setting. Secondly, your PAT team has been firm that the environment for voluntary in-person education must be as safe as possible in the face of the worsening COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, we have been clear that it is not yet appropriate to discuss Hybrid models of instruction, let alone full in-person education. Current health conditions simply make those goals unreasonable.
We meet again on December 4th to discuss LIPI conditions, safety, and Community-Support language.
Your team wants to wish all of you a happy, healthy, and safe break from work. We will continue to do all we can to fight for all of you, and for the good of our students and their families.
Your PAT Bargaining Team-
Steve Lancaster, Chair