Teachers and schools agree on vaccine mandate policy

The Oak Park District 97 School Board voted unanimously on Sept. 14 to approve a memorandum of understanding with three collective bargaining units, outlining a comprehensive plan to comply with the state’s vaccine mandate.

The protocol – which is between the district and the Oak Park Teachers ‘Association, the Oak Park Teachers Assistants’ Association, and the Oak Park Educational Support Personnel – requires that members of these bargaining units and non-union staff receive the vaccine. Single dose COVID-19. or the first injection of a two-dose vaccine by September 19. According to state guidelines, workers planning a two-dose vaccine against Covid must receive the second dose within 30 days of the first injection. In this case, District 97 employees need this second dose by October 19.

“We continue to work in partnership with our BOE [board of education] and administration to make safe and healthy decisions for our students, staff and the community at large, ”said Hannah Boudreau, co-chair of the teachers’ association, in an email to the Wednesday Journal.

Negotiations are still ongoing with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), district spokesperson Amanda Siegfried told the Journal by email. Siegfried said she could not comment on the details of those negotiations or offer a timeline on when a decision could be made.

Among other items listed in the memorandum, employees who are not fully vaccinated by September 19 will be tested twice a week, starting the week of September 20, on site. Siegfried said the district plans to use the SHIELD saliva test on staff. Employees are also now required to disclose their immunization status and submit proof of their vaccinations, the memorandum of understanding said.

Workers in District 97 seeking to withdraw from the vaccine for medical or religious reasons are encouraged to file a waiver request, which will be reviewed and granted or denied by the district human resources department. Employees who do not comply with the plan may be subject to disciplinary action, including “termination in accordance with the provisions of the applicable collective bargaining policy”, according to the memorandum of understanding.

Immunization is still the primary strategy to protect our community from COVID-19 and keep our schools open for in-person learning

Amanda siegfried

“Immunization is still the primary strategy to protect our community from COVID-19 and keep our schools open for in-person learning,” Siegfried said. “While we are happy that the overall vaccination rate for our staff is 88%, we still aim to meet or exceed our target of 90%.

“We appreciate the collective efforts of our staff to comply with this mandate and protect the overall safety of our schools.”

In a separate agreement, District 97 and the Oak Park Teachers Association also agreed on a distance learning plan for students.

Students could only qualify for distance learning if they were not eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and were subject to quarantine orders from a local public health department or the Department of Health Illinois State Council, according to a previous resolution of the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

This decision has since changed. State council members have expanded distance learning to include students who are quarantined after potentially being exposed to COVID-19 at school.

Based on the district and association agreement, distance education students will now have a “window to the classroom”. This means distance learning students will be able to connect with their classrooms through Zoom, but there are a few tweaks.

Students will not be able to participate in the discussion, raise their hands or use the chat feature, an email announcement to families in the district described. Students can only listen, as teachers are asked to turn on audio for the Zoom session. Teachers who use a whiteboard or present can only turn on the camera for this part of the lesson, the email says.

The agreement said teachers who “choose to be available” for students quarantined during their personal planning period or after school will be paid a contract rate of $ 35 per hour. District 97 relied on providing distance education to quarantined students through substitute teachers, but like so many others, the district faced a shortage of substitute teachers, “making more difficult to implement the original distance learning plan, “the email also said.

The OPRF also reaches an agreement

In Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200, the school board also approved a memorandum with its Faculty Senate, a collective bargaining unit, regarding the state’s vaccine mandate. The Memorandum of Understanding between District 200 and the Faculty Senate – which was approved at a special board meeting on September 9 and applies to members and non-members of the Senate – outlines deadlines and similar details on immunization records, submissions and disciplinary actions.

The memorandum also stated that employees who test positive for COVID-19 will be placed on paid administrative leave during their period of isolation. The MOU clarified that this is for employees who are either fully vaccinated or exempt from vaccination and test positive for COVID-19. Employees who wish to return to work after completing a period of isolation must submit a letter of discharge from a health care professional or service.

D200 employees who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or who have not submitted proof of vaccination by September 19 will be tested once a week, according to the memorandum of understanding. Like District 97, the D200 also plans to offer on-site testing.

In an emailed statement to the Journal, District 200 and the Faculty Senate said they were “happy to have worked together on this joint agreement to do what is in the best interests of not just our students, but of our school community as a whole “.

“The top priority of administration and faculty is always the safety of those in our building,” the two entities wrote. “The testing program we implement for unvaccinated employees not only complies with the governor’s mandate, but also helps ensure that we do everything possible to maintain a safe environment for students and staff.”

As of September 16, 89 percent of OPRF employees were fully immunized, according to district data.

Another clause included in the memorandum dealt with distance learning. Teachers can now provide “audio and video observation access to their classrooms” for students who are isolated or quarantined and learning at home.

Under the MOU, OPRF teachers can live stream their lessons as deemed “appropriate to the educational needs of the lesson.” Distance learning students can observe, watch or listen, but they may not be able to interact with the class in “real time” because “teachers are expected to teach students in person.”

“With the state’s ban on fully distance learning or hybrid learning this year, being absent for COVID-related reasons has been stressful for our students and families,” wrote the D200 and the Faculty Senate in a joint declaration. “We are pleased to be able to offer isolated or quarantined students the opportunity to observe their classes, so that they have the greatest possible access to quality education during their absence. “

About Elaine Morales

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