October 22, 2020
PHILADELPHIA— Today, as the School Board meets, PFT President Jerry Jordan issued the following statement on the proposed PreK-2 reopening model:
“Yesterday, the PFT announced a tentative agreement and outlined the terms of our one year contract extension. While negotiating a one year extension, we simultaneously negotiated a separate Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding health and safety protocol around school building reopening.
“The health and safety plan we negotiated includes, but is not limited, to the following:
- Square footage calculations, 6-ft social distancing, and recalculation of reoccupancy rates based on social distancing and ventilation
- Our evaluation of “air balancing” (air flow) reports
- Cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing procedures
- Access to plentiful and approved PPE and sanitizing supplies
- A dispute process with a swift reporting mechanism and immediate resolution, including the involvement of the Mayor’s Office of Labor and a third party expert
“I want to reiterate the urgency of the ventilation reports and subsequent occupancy recalculations. We cannot, and will not, agree to any reopening efforts that do not use strict adherence to ventilation measurements in conjunction with the usable square footage calculations. In areas where ventilation is poor (based on a scientific reading, not by sight, sound, or even the presence of windows), the occupancy rates will be extremely limited or even zero.
“The ventilation reports were shared with PFT this afternoon, and my team will be reviewing them thoroughly. Given the District’s years of deferred maintenance, and massive district-wide ventilation issues, reopening in any capacity will be enormously challenging, and our analysis of the ventilation reports and other standards will determine the feasibility of these efforts. That’s why, due to the MOU negotiated by the PFT, safeguards are in place to ensure that any efforts to reopen are driven first and foremost driven by the health and safety of students and staff.
“We know, too, that the youngest learners have struggled most profoundly with virtual learning. But their return to the classroom cannot and will not be at the expense of their health or the health of their educators. A phased in return to buildings makes sense, but as I have stated many times before, it can only happen if it is safe.
“Time is ticking, and the scheduled November 9th return of PreK-2 staff is around the corner. But let me be very clear: my members and their students cannot return without their health and safety protected.”