LARGO, Fla. — Teachers in Pinellas County have reached an agreement about COVID-19 safety measures once school starts.
But the local teacher’s union says this agreement doesn’t mean they’ve changed their stance on holding off the start of the school year.
What You Need To Know
- Key points of the agreement are masks, social distancing, cleaning, sanitizing, limiting visitors and self-screening
- Teachers want cases to decline before schools reopen
- Students who refuse to wear masks won’t be disciplined
- READ: PINELLAS COUNTY SCHOOLS Memorandum of Understanding
“If they opened schools, we needed to have these protocols in place to protect the people who work there and the students,” Pinellas County Teacher’s Association President, Nancy Velardi said.
According to their memorandum of understanding with the Pinellas County school district, each school will educate students, staff and visitors about the importance of social distancing, using no-touch hand sanitizing stations and wearing masks.
Visitors will be limited at least for the first nine weeks, according to the details outlined in that six-page document.
Employees and visitors will complete a self-screening tool to affirm their wellness each day before entering any school building, and parents are encouraged to do the same for their children.
Velardi said that brings little comfort to some teachers.
“Well, there are some teachers that are ready to go back. I would say the majority are still very frightened. They are still looking at the numbers,” she said.
According to the document, all teachers and students in Pinellas County will wear masks and be provided with five of them at the beginning of the school year.
Students caught not wearing a mask – or refusing to wear one – won’t be punished. The teachers and the district agree those situations should be handled by involving parents and discussing virtual learning options.
Velardi said, for now, teachers are just waiting on the cases to go down before they agree to go back to work.
“We still believe that until the numbers are 14 consecutive days of declining cases, until our positivity rate goes down to five percent – all of the things expected by the Department of Health and CDC – until then, I think we should be teaching in the safest way possible, which would be virtually,” she said.
Pinellas County support staff is expected to release the details of their agreement on Tuesday.