Advance Notice: Briefs

DPSCD, teachers union OK deal to avoid a strike, includes hazard pay

By: - August 28, 2020 3:24 pm

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Detroit teachers reached a deal with Detroit Public School Community District (DPSCD) administrators Thursday that will put teachers in the classroom and puts an end to all talks of a strike. 

On Aug. 20, the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) held an emergency meeting to vote on a potential “safety strike” if the state’s largest school district did not agree to implement additional safety protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

But within the week, DFT and the district were able to compromise on a plan that teachers feel comfortable with and lets the district open for in-person learning by the first day of school on Sept. 8. 

“It is our hope that through this agreement we can now collectively own the reopening of our schools to best serve our children and families while ensuring the safety of our employees,” DPSCD Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said in a statement. “This agreement signals we will work together to provide equitable education opportunities for our children and families.”

One of the requests made by DFT was that teachers would be tested for COVID-19 more frequently. 

Under the deal, the district will now provide free of charge testing to teachers and students on a voluntary and ongoing basis, and DPSCD agreed to begin exploring the option of a districtwide random COVID-19 testing program. 

Teachers were tested for coronavirus prior to the start of summer school session, and after a lawsuit was filed in July by a left-wing activist group, By Any Means Necessary, a federal court judge ordered that all students must be tested in order for summer school to continue. 

The deal also offers a $750 hazard pay bonus each marking period for teachers who agree to work face-to-face with students, but teachers still reserve the right to teach remotely instead.

However, after the first nine weeks of school, DFT and the district will have to bargain again about whether or not teachers will move to remote teaching, face-to-face or a hybrid option. 

Under the deal, classrooms are not allowed to be any larger than 20 students and must allow for at least six feet of social-distancing between each person in the room. 

While there isn’t an offer for childcare for DPSCD staff, teachers are now allowed to bring their own school age children to their classrooms.

The deal also offers paid sick leave for teachers who work in-person and test positive for COVID-19 without having to dip into their normal sick day allotment.

DFT did not return a request to comment on the deal. 

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue is a former Michigan Advance reporter who covered education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8.