Philly School District teachers won't be mandated to report to classroom amid COVID safety concerns

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- School District of Philadelphia teachers will not be mandated to report to school buildings on Monday amid COVID-19 safety concerns.

On Friday, Jerry Jordan, the president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, sent an email to members Friday saying they "should not go into buildings on Monday, but should continue to work."

Some 2,000 teachers were expected to return Monday to prepare for hybrid learning, which is set to start on February 22. But the union said there are still many unanswered safety concerns, including questions over the use of fans for ventilation, and the lack of vaccines for teachers.

Superintendent William Hite called the directive a violation of a collective bargaining agreement reached with the PFT to reopen schools a few months ago.

SEE ALSO: Union tells Philadelphia school district teachers not to go into buildings Monday
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The union representing teachers in the School District of Philadelphia is telling members not to go into the buildings on Monday over COVID-19 safety concerns.

Late Sunday night, city officials confirmed to Action News that a mediation process is underway and teachers would not be mandated to report.

"The mediation process is still ongoing. Without a final decision from the mediator, teachers won't be mandated to report tomorrow, but any teacher who chooses to report is welcome to do so. We remain hopeful that this process will ultimately allow both parties to come to a resolution in time for students to return the week of February 22," said a spokesperson for the city.

PFT called mediation process a "massive victory" and said that "actions are still on." School district officials had no comment on Sunday night.

Some Philadelphia school district teachers told Action News they do not trust the district, especially after seeing the window fans to improve ventilation installed from the Philadelphia school district.

Action News spoke with teachers who taught inside Rowen Elementary and have children who attend the school.

The teachers said it's harder to teach virtually than in-person, but they want transparency from the district before they return to their classrooms, including pictures of proper ventilation, and pictures of sneeze guards and other precautions.

"We feel that the School District of Philadelphia has not taken our concerns seriously," said Felicia Atwell, a 3rd grade teacher at Rowen.

Philadelphia's educators are expected to protest the issue Monday morning.
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