Wed, Jul 21, 2021 at 7:55AM

Updated September 24, 2021


Updated September 23, 2021


CTA declared impasse when the District would not agree to sign off on even the most fundamental CDC-recommended health and safety protections - the same protections that they had signed off on for the 2020-2021 school year and the 2021 summer school. This school year we need enforceable protections more than ever before as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and the positivity rate has been much higher.  Additionally, this school year, schools have twice the number of face-to-face students than they had last school year.  

CTA continues to advocate for an enforceable agreement that provides for health and safety protections for teachers. The District’s final counter proposal removed CDC-recommended protections including: limiting nonessential visitors; limiting walkthroughs; allowing the MOU to prevail over the OCPS Health and Safety Manual; offering the option of attending meetings virtually when possible; school clinic procedures for sick/well students; informing all staff of positive COVID-19 cases and quarantines at their school or worksite; following CDC guidelines on masking; cleaning and disinfecting and social distancing guidelines; home visits not being required; teachers not being held responsible for COVID-19 cases traced to their classrooms; no hybrid or audio or visual instruction required for face-to-face teachers, etc.

There is a new OCCTA survey meant to evaluate working conditions, needs and concerns that all members of our bargaining unit are experiencing during this pandemic.  We need to hear from you, so we can better serve you! Please take the time today to complete this survey. Share it with other OCPS teachers and instructional personnel (questions are for members of our bargaining unit -not other OCPS employees.) The survey is at this link:

Updated September 23, 2021

Florida’s New Surgeon General

The newly appointed Florida Surgeon General has issued a rule that parents get to decide whether their asymptomatic child who has been directly exposed to COVID-19 will quarantine. That's right - parents will decide if their children who may be COVID-19 positive, and may not have been tested will attend school to potentially spread the virus on the bus, in the classroom, in the cafeteria, in the hallways and everywhere else. As if maintaining protection during this pandemic has not been enough of a challenge, now the state’s head physician will allow parents to play Russian Roulette with the health of other students, educators and the community at large. With more students on campus and less social distancing what do our state and District leaders do? They eliminate protections that were in place last year and also reduce transparency to make learning and teaching in our schools extra fearful and uncertain.

The Orlando Sentinel outlined his background in an editorial (this link). From the Sentinel:

“Did we mention that Florida’s now up to a nation-leading 376 people dying from COVID every day during the past week, and that Florida is now No. 10 among states with the highest rates of COVID deaths since the pandemic began.”

There is certainly reason for concern as the FLDOH could not even keep up with quarantines in schools. Some students got quarantine letters after they returned to school. An article about the lags in reporting from the West Orange Times at this link stated: “It is taking four to five business days for them to issue quarantine, then a day for them to actually contact the families and quarantine the student,” said a Horizon West Middle School parent who also asked to remain anonymous. “I believe the biggest issue for contact has been the weekend. It seems to me that they don’t notify or trace over the weekend, which is causing more exposures.”

Other stories on the new quarantine rule and the Florida's new surgeon general are at these links:

Channel 2

Channel 9


Daily Beast

Channel 13

Updated August  30, 2021


Last week AFT and FEA joined CTA to support our efforts to institute a universal mask mandate and restore the health and safety protections that were in place last year, but were unilaterally eliminated by the District before school began.

We know that CDC-recommended protections can reduce the spread and the number of quarantines so more uninterrupted teaching and learning can take place. The positive case count this August (3,289) has surpassed the total positive case count for August, September, October, November, December and the first two weeks of January for the last school year. Let that sink in. We must continue to advocate for safe and healthy schools! 

On Monday CTA held a press conference to urge the Superintendent and School Board to adopt a universal mask mandate to protect our students, employees and community. I was joined by FEA President Andrew Spar, Rep. Anna Eskamini, pediatrician Candis Jones, nurse practitioner Laura Hollenberger from AdventHealth, Reverend Gail Gardner, parent Lora Vail from Mask-Up OCPS, and representatives from the Orange County Education Justice Alliance and our sister unions.


On Friday, Judge John Cooper from the Florida Second Judicial Circuit ruled that local school districts could enforce a mask mandate. Ironically, he cited the Parents' Bill of Rights as giving the school districts the right to impose the mask mandates. Governor DeSantis and the spokespeople for the anti-maskers groups cited the Parents' Bill of Rights as a reason to allow masks to be optional in schools. In his two-hour long ruling the judge stated parents' rights cannot infringe on the rights of others. Orange County is among ten school districts that currently have the universal mask mandate. Learn more at this link.

Today the OCPS universal mask mandate goes into effect. All adults and children will be required to wear masks while inside school buildings and on buses, per the change in policy decided at the August 24, 2021 School Board Meeting.

Hopefully, it will reduce the spread and the number of quarantines so more uninterrupted teaching and learning can take place. It should provide students and employees with more protection, which is especially critical for those children under 12 who are ineligible to get a vaccine and the medically compromised.

We understand that teachers will be required follow the Student Code of Conduct in directing students’ mask wearing, and employees who are out of compliance will be referred to Professional Standards. Please ask your administrators for guidance, if they have not provided it.

As the policies and procedures continue to evolve, if you should need assistance please contact us at with your full name, school or worksite and detailed message.


truck anna minni

Updated August 20, 2021

How Many Students are Unmasked at Your School?

masks %

The District's optional mask mandate surely puts students, employees, families and the community at risk, as the pandemic rages and the positivity rate is over 20%. Orange County Public Schools has chosen to go against the recommendations of the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics and medical experts by establishing an opt-out mask mandate. The chart above shows the percentages of those students opting-out by grade level. They are significantly above the 4% estimate that the District was initially touting.

More disturbing are the charts, which breakdown the opt-out percentages by school. Some elementary schools where children are not even eligible for vaccines have over 20% of their student populations opting out of masks. These include:

  • Columbia Elementary School- 28.5%
  • Dommerich Elementary School - 22.2%
  • Dr. Phillips Elementary School - 25.2%
  • Lake Whitney Elementary School - 21.3%
  • Summerlake Elementary School - 20.5%
  • Whispering Oak Elementary School - 21.9%
  • Windemere Eementary School - 30.8%

K-8 Schools with over 20% opting out include:

  • Pershing - 22.4%
  • Wedgefield School - 27.8%

Middle Schools

  • Maitland Middle School - 21.4%

High Schools

  • Simon Youth Academy - 28.6%
  • Windemere High School - 21.%

Also, keep in mind that some teachers reported that there was not a system to collect notes and some were not opt-out checks were not inputted on Canvas so the accuracy may not be that good at some schools.

See the charts below to find your school: 


page 1 masks

page 2 masks

page 3

4 masks

August 20, 2021


At the August 19, 2021 School Board Work Session, school board members were provided with packet with the District's COVID-19 Procedures. The document contains memos from the state and memos to principals that CTA had requested, but had not been provided. You can read the documents at this link: /z/-vf. . 

President Doromal spoke to two school board members prior to the meeting and was very surprised to learn that even school board members are not copied or kept up to date on COVID-19 procedures. The District's Chief Negotiator suggested that the school board members had input on the COVID-19 safety procedures. 

Download the File Given to School Board Members (COVID 19 Procedures & Data 8.19.2021.pdf) 

CTA added some documents that were missing to legitimize the  packet. Read it at this link: Download File (COVID 19 Procedures & Data 8.19.2021 (1).pdf)

Updated August 15, 2021

school board

CTA has been hearing from many of you with concerns about the relaxed health and safety procedures at you schools and worksites.  There will be a school board work session on August 19, 2021 at 10:00am to discuss the COVID-19 Health and Safety Procedures.  The public is not allowed to speak, so please send your comments to the school board members and superintendent by Wednesday, August 18th and please copy CTA at orangecta@ so we too are aware of your concerns.

What changed from last school year to this school year? 

Even though the pandemic has reached record levels in Orange County with the highest positivity rate (currently 20%), highest positive cases and highest hospitalizations, the District has not followed the guidelines of the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics to provide even basic protections.

  • Masks are optional for students this year at OCPS schools and worksites.
  • The OCPS COVID-19 Health and Safety Procedures Manual was cut from 88 to 23 pages, eliminating essential protective measures that were approved by the CDC. (Read the review at this link: /z/-vf. )
  • CTA and the District are at impasse. There is no agreement providing health and safety provisions for teachers as there was over the summer and last school year (after a special magistrate sided with CTA and ordered provisions). The District refused to sign off on the same provisions that they signed off on twice before. The District’s counter proposal ( Download File (District Counter Proposal to CTA Proposal #16 -- MOU Health and Safety 2021-22 -- DRAFT v10.docx) removed CDC recommended procedures including: limiting nonessential visitors, limiting walkthroughs, that the MOU prevails over the OCPS Health and Safety Manual, offering the option of attending meetings virtually when possible, school clinic procedures for sick/well students, informing all staff at a worksite of positive COVID-19 cases and quarantines, following CDC guidelines on cleaning and disinfecting, etc., home visits not being required, teachers not responsible for COVID-19 cases traced to their classrooms, no hybrid or audio or visual instruction required for face-to-face teachers, etc.

Let’s work together to ensure healthy and safe work and learning environments!

Send an email  to:

 Thanks for advocating for students and teachers!

Updated on August 13, 2021


On August 12, 2021, OCPS issued a memo to administrators regarding the new FLDOH policy on student quarantines. (I received it from a reporter.) Read it at this link. Download File (New FDOH Processes 8.12 -reviewed.pdf)

Below is the CDC-recommended procedures:

cdc quaratine

Updated on August 12, 2021


Despite numerous requests at the bargaining table and in emails, the District did not provide CTA with procedures for masks until today.  Please see below. 

The District states, "As a reminder, we will be respectful of parent choice regarding mask requirement and any harassment or shaming will be dealt with through Code of Student Conduct or Professional Standards. "

This language implies that a child can say that he/she felt bullied or harassed and a teacher can be called down to Professional Standards to be disciplined.   Please be mindful of this. You actually have no protection because provision in former agreements have expired.

If you have health issues and want to social  distance yourself from unmasked students, and would ask a student to please stay 6 feet from you, that could be considered harassment.  We recommend to all teachers with health issues to apply immediately for ADA accommodations.

A member wrote to CTA to let us know that the principal told staff to tell parents that asked for their masked student to be separated from unmasked students to respond with the following: "Teachers are unable to organize or group students based on who is / is not wearing a mask. The  staff is  not going to single out children based on this choice.  There are strong opinions on masks and the adults in the schools need to remain impartial and supportive of all students.” 

CTA recommends you respond to parents who request you separate their masked child from unmasked children with the following statement, not the previous one the principal suggested:  "Teachers have been directed that they are unable to organize or group students based on who is / is not wearing a mask. The teachers have been directed not  to single out children based on this choice.  The District's position is  that there are strong opinions on masks and the adults in the schools need to remain impartial and supportive of all students. Please contact your school board member and the superintendent with your concerns."

The mask policy was decided by the School Board and not the teachers.  Leet them own it and respond to questions.

Below is language from CTA's proposal that was in two prior agreements that the District struck through and rejected in the August 2021 bargaining session:

"Employees may, but will not be required to, enforce student adherence to hygiene practices, social distancing, and other safety protocols. Employees shall not be disciplined or held responsible when students refuse to follow instructions to practice safety protocols unless the employee is grossly negligent and takes no actions to correct the noncompliance. Teachers will also not be held responsible for any adverse consequences of face coverings; COVID-19 cases traced to their classroom; or curriculum requirements that cannot be followed due to social distancing requirements or class closures."       

Miguel Cardona the U.S. Secretary of Education sent letters to the Florida Governor DeSantis and to Florida Superintendents regarding mask policies. Read more at THIS LINK.                                                                                                                     

mask policy


The District also sent the memo below to all administrators. It calls for teachers to "volunteer" to go against current contract language to provide audio and or visual access to their classrooms if students are absent. Do not volunteer. If you are shamed, bullied or "voluntold", please contact CTA immediately so we can contact your administration and/or file a grievance. This is extremely concerning! The District that has shown disrespect to every teacher would like teachers to VOLUNTEER to break their contract by allowing absent or quarantined students to audio video access to the class when out.

The District that rejected no less than three CTA proposals calling for teachers who taught  or teach Hybrid classes to receive a supplement has the audacity to request that teachers VOLUNTEER to continue this bad practice! The District that thinks the teachers are worth a $25 a year increase in salary wants the teachers to do extra work?

Last year administrators and others who listened on visual/audio lessons used them to discipline teachers or mark them down on their evaluations. Additionally, parents complained about teachers as they listened in too. 

It is unbelievable that a District that does not even provide basic CDC-recommended protections during this pandemic expects teachers to "find it in their hearts", as one District leader expressed to do this!  "Find it in your heart" is another way to shame teachers into working for free or agreeing to something that they do NOT have to do!

If a student is absent follow all pre-pandemic procedures. A student can log into canvas to retrieve assignments or you may email them. Of course, offer help. But please, do not consent to audio or video communications. Remember if you are a CTA member and are pressured by the parent or the administrators, contact us at with your full name and name of your school and a description of the concern.  


continuity memo

continuity page 2


The document below shows procedures for attendance and absences. We are unsure how one could count students present who are actually at home/quarantined and are not physically present in the room.  Teachers have always been instructed to count students present only if they are physically in the room, regardless of whether we know they are with a coach, in a group session, etc.  This requires further clarification, which we will seek.

The memo also describes the process for which a student would qualify for a Hope Scholarship due to harassment. This process was set up by the state to allow more defunding of public schools as students move to unaccountable private schools and charters.


rule page 1

rule page 2


Updated on AUGUST 8, 2021

mask difference


At the bargaining table this week, the District's Chief Negotiator stated that the School Board wanted to "have control" over safety and health procedures and CTA was handed ridiculous counter proposals that struck through essential health and safety procedures that had been previously agreed to by the District, even as COVID-19 rages in our community.  

  • Some take aways from bargaining health and safety working conditions

    • Any signed agreement for health and safety provisions could be trumped by the unilaterally created District COVID-19 Health and Safety Procedures Manual, therefore any agreement made with the District was meaningless.
    • The District negotiator stressed that they have Management Rights and insinuated that they do not have to bargain health and safety provisions. They do!
    • The District's chief negotiator said over and over that the School Board didn't want an agreement that could be enforced. They want to be able to make changes as they want without having to allow the union to bargain changes, as is required.
    • Essential layers of protective measures against COVID-19 have been peeled away. The District refused to agree to health and safety provisions that the District had signed off on in two previous agreements.
    • Many other school Districts have reached agreements with their Districts similar to what CTA proposed. In addition, the unions were partners in creating their District's protocol manuals and guidelines and some signed off on them as formal agreements. OCPS refuses to partner with CTA or other stakeholders.
    • The District's autocratic, top-down culture has poisoned the entire District and put the health and safety of students and employees at risk.  

Read more about CTA's attempt to bargain health and safety provisions at this link: /SUMMER-BARGAINING---Updated-July-22--2021-1-10521.html

Updated on August 1, 2021


manual posted before august 2

OCPS posted the "new version" of the OCPS COVID-19 Health and Safety Manual before the scheduled CTA bargaining session and before the August 2, 2021 date it was scheduled to be posted. Here is the link to their site:

Even as Orange County and Florida have broken records in the number of cases and hospitalizations this week, OCPS drastically reduced the health and safety protocols. The proposed revisions to the manual violate the OCCTA contract language which, among other things, requires the District to maintain safe and healthful working conditions. By instituting the changes, you will be ignoring the recommendations of health experts, undermining the threat of the virus, violating our contract, and putting employees and students at serious risk.

The District falsely claimed that changes were made because the School Board adopted a new mask policy. District leaders need to explain how disinfecting and sanitizing, social distancing, holding virtual meetings, limiting visitors, clinic procedures and other preventative language that was callously removed is related to masks! The CDC-recommends universal masking and layers of protections!

gutting of manual

How underhanded, autocratic and unethical is OCPS?

The District is supposed to send the CTA President all emails sent to every member of the bargaining unit through OCPS email on the day they are sent.  On Friday, the District sent the following "News You Can Use" to all employees:


new you can use july 30


However, the District failed to send the email to President Doromal. A member of the bargaining team forwarded it to her. She then sent the following email to the District:

leighann email 8-1

The District held the committee meeting when one entire party of the joint committee could not attend. CTA notified Preusser that the members could not attend on that date/time. (The CTA CBLT team had bargaining prep at that time). Because this joint committee was rescheduled when OESPA could not attend CTA assumed the same courtesy would be afforded to them and believed the meeting was not being held.  

Ah, but it gets nastier. After President Doromal sent the above email, LeighAnn Blackmore finally sent her the notification that the message was sent to all members of the bargaining unit.  Below is Blackmore's Email (See the time -6:22Pm, exactly one hour after Blackmore got President Doromal's email.)


The Joint Safety Committee has been used by the District as a check box to claim they met with the unions. Every meeting has been controlled by the District narrative and no suggestions or input from CTA has even been noted or considered. The District even decides when the meetings will be held, whether or not all parties can attend.

CTA would like the district to  get to the table and get some real health and safety measures in place to protect every student and every employee. 



July 19, 2021

The District sent notification to CTA that they intend to "revise" the COVID-19 Health and Procedures Manual, which is basically a unilaterally prepared policy for dealing with the pandemic and related issues. 


The District has never considered any of CTA's recommendations, does not consult with stakeholders and creates and enforces the policies claiming "management rights". 

CTA filed action against the District for violating our MOU by revising the COVID-19 manual to move from a 14-day quarantine to a 10-day quarantine, which was against the preliminary advice of their own Medical Advisory Committee. They made the changes on December 18, 2020 without notifying or consulting with CTA until after the changes were made. What happened as a result? January 2021 had the most COVID-cases that were ever recorded in OCPS schools and worksites. In fact, there were more positive COVID-19 cases in January, than in August, September, October, November and the first weeks of December combined! 

We cannot allow the District to make reckless decisions that risk the health and lives of students and employees by gutting policies. 

A copy of the current OCPS COVID-19 Health and Procedures Manual is at this link: Download File (COVID-19 Health and Safety Manual.pdf)

A copy of the proposed OCPS COVID-19 Health and Procedures Manual is at this link:  Download File (NEW OCPS COVID-19 Health and Safety Procedures Manual -- 20210802.pdf)

summary changesIf you are concerned with the lack of protections that will be provided this school year, as the Delta variant has made cases surge in Orange County, the positivity rate is over 15%, hospitalizations are up, the School Board has made masks optional, and most students and many adults at schools and worksites will be unvaccinated, please contact school board members. (Their email addresses are at this link:

CTA also demanded to impact bargain the safety and health policies and offered 6 dates and also afternoons, evenings and weekends. The District rejected all of CTA's dates, and instead proposed bargaining after teachers return for pre-planning. We will keep you updated on developments.




June 17, 2021

School Board Rule Development Meeting - Out of Control!

school board

What a circus the June 17th School Board Rule Development Meeting was! At that meeting addressing mask policy changes, Chair Jacobs stated that she was a “rule follower”.  We are confused.  Dozens of unmasked citizens were allowed into the RBELC and into the school board meeting room even though the School Board protocol posted on their website states: “The public is required to wear a mask in order to enter into the Ronald Blocker Educational Leadership Center (RBELC).”

Parents and others signed up to speak in the lobby - most were not wearing masks, as multiple OCPS law enforcement officers ignored the violations.  They then filled the board room, sitting shoulder to shoulder without masks. Finally, eight minutes into the meeting, after a moment of silence, the pledge, and the explanation of the proposed mask rule, Chair Jacobs ordered the audience members to put on masks.

Jacobs stated, “If you do not have a mask on, I’m going to ask you to leave. So either put the mask on or leave or we’ll take a recess until we can remove the people from the audience who are not wearing a mask. . . No masks are going on we’re going to recess.” 

After dozens of audience members refused to put masks on, the entire board walked out of the room for a ten-minutes recess leaving the rest of us in a room with shouting, unmasked people.  No effective action was taken to enforce the policy and none of those refusing to wear masks were “removed” despite refusal to follow the policy. An OCPS officer and Scott Howat tried to calmly explain why they needed to put their masks on. Some put masks on, some did not. No one was removed. 

There was a second recess called when audience members jeered at Judi Hayes, a parent speaking passionately about the need to address the vulnerability of special needs students, including her own child.  She expressed concern that children under 12 currently have no  vaccine available and how relaxing the mask policy for elementary schools will conflict with the ADA Act leaving them with fewer options than their peers. Judi spoke after Jack, her eighth grade son, spoke eloquently about his younger brother’s need for protection. 

After Judi stated, “You’re going to hear a lot of nonsense today. You’re going to see a lot of people with their thumbs down, and their red shirts because they want to make America sick again”,  she was interrupted by jeers and outbursts from the crowd. Jacobs called another recess, this time to restore order. The entire school board once again exited the room.

Watching this meeting I couldn’t help but think of the teachers who are routinely hauled into Professional Standards to receive a reprimand or directive for not following school board policies. The School Board's recesses and dramatic exit of the room did nothing to effectively enforce their own policies. No one was removed for mask violations or incivility. Those following procedures had to sit there and endure ignorant remarks and bad behavior. We need to demand that our "leaders" enforce rules.


school board

The revised mask policy is at this link. It calls for optional face masks. It also has a provision that calls for the superintendent to implement more restrictive mask requirements depending on guidance from the CDC or other governmental entities. CTA agrees with the Medical Advisory Committee and the speakers who support maintaining a mandatory mask policy for children under age 12.  We need to follow scientists and medical experts when making policies that could have life or death consequences. The Orlando Sentinel quoted Dr. Annette Neilsen: “Until they can be vaccinated … we have a civic and medical and moral duty to protect them,” said Dr. Annette Nielsen, a Lake Nona pediatrician and a member of the board’s medical advisory committee. “Let’s keep a mask on these kiddos until they and their families have a chance to be vaccinated.”  

One has to wonder why does this School Board have a Medical Advisory Committee if they do not follow their advice.

The union objects to the repeated suggestion that the extension of the School Board mask policy was because of a Memorandum of Understanding that was negotiated and signed by both CTA and the District. The MOU was repeatedly referred to as the “CTA” or the “union’s” MOU.   Here’s a chronological list of the OCPS mask policy developments:

  • The School Board issued the District mask policy on August 11, 2021.
  • The CTA/District Memorandum of Understanding was signed on December 8, 2021 while the District-wide School Board mask policy was already in place.
  • On March 29, 2021 the second MOU (an extension of the first MOU that was intended for summer classes) was signed while the school board mask policy remained in place.  The direction from the FLDOE on mask policy for the upcoming school year was received at that time. 
  • On April 14, 2021, the FLDOE issued a memorandum about face coverings. The District did not contact CTA about amending the MOU and did not initiate any discussions. 
  • On April 29, 2021, State Surgeon General Dr. Scott A. Rivkees issued a Public Health Advisory regarding Covid-19 stating, “scientific studies show that COVID-19 vaccines protect individuals from COVID-19, dramatically diminish hospitalizations and death caused by COVID-19 infection.” He further stated, “due to COVID-19 wide-spread vaccine availability, fully vaccinated individuals should no longer be advised to wear face coverings or avoid social and recreational gathering except in limited circumstances.” The District did not contact CTA about amending the MOU and did not initiate any discussions.
  • On June 1, 2021 there was a School Board work session on mask policy. The MOU was mentioned, but the District failed to mention they did not contact CTA and had no discussions with CTA on recommended changes to the policy.
  • On June 16, 2021,  there was a Rule Development School Board meeting.  OCPS mentioned the CTA/District MOU, but failed to mention that they had not initiated any discussions with CTA about that MOU.  Chair Jacobs mentioned the MOU and failed to mention that the December 8, 2021 MOU was ratified and approved by the School Board. The second MOU is an extension of that MOU and the board members have access to it on the District's own website at this tab:

The District too often implies that CTA is responsible for policies and mandates that they unilaterally created or collaboratively negotiated.

Some media coverage on the meeting:

Channel 13

Orlando Sentinel




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