November 29, 2021
Special Magistrate Nicholas Taldone issued his decision on November 22, 2021 concerning the health and safety during the pandemic. Please read his decision at this link. (Download File (Amended Discussion and Recommended Decision 11 24 21.pdf)
Health and Safety Impasse
From Magistrate’s Discussions and Recommended Decision :
- [Teachers'] passion and dedication are directly related to the future of our children. . . A local government has a fiscal interest in maintaining the quality and morale of its teachers.
- It cannot be disputed that as a result of the Legislation, students and teachers' safety has not improved. It also is undisputed that there is a difficulty in retaining teachers and hiring new teachers. If teachers are out sick, education will be compromised.
- The Special Magistrate's approach, as discussed below, is to continue the safeguards for students' and teachers' safety that the Union proposes in the MOU to the extent operationally and practically possible in view of this shifting landscape and the new Legislation, parts of which will most certainly be litigated for years to come.
- The duration should be the end of the 2021-2022 school year.
One related issue to the above and which affects the entire MOU is the enforceability of the MOU.
The MOU must be clear and enforceable.
- The fact that the Union is special, partner-like, stakeholder militates in favor of the Union’s proposal [regarding informing OCCTA and all employees regarding positive cases].
Some of the recommendations include:
- This Memorandum of Understanding relates to safely operating schools through June 2022.
- The COVID-19 Health and Safety Procedures Manual latest version as of the date of the execution of this agreement, is hereby incorporated to this MOU as if fully set forth herein.
- Vendors or classroom visitors or volunteers must comply with all other safety protocols, including those established by this MOU.
- Each school shall expand school clinic capabilities with triage and have at least one separate isolation room that can be used to isolate symptomatic and/or COVID-19 positive individuals.
- Cleaning/disinfecting areas used by the person who is symptomatic and/or COVID-19 positive.
- Informing OCCTA and all employees at the worksite whenever a student, employee, or visitor at a worksite has tested positive for COVID-19. OCCTA will be provided with a weekly update of these worksites. The OCPS “dashboard” may be utilized for this purpose provided the OCPS uses reasonable efforts to immediately update all incidents.
- Bargaining unit employees will have the option to virtually attend any and all meetings, where legal and possible. Provided parents may request face to face meetings if possible. Virtual meetings may be recorded. Any other administrator communications will be conducted via email.
- When conducting home visits, bargaining unit employees, including Social Workers, may not be required to enter homes unless entering the home has a legitimate operational need.
- 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.
- Teachers will not be penalized for choosing to maintain any distancing prescribed by FDOH and will not be marked down in their evaluation for not walking around the classroom if doing so would violate such distancing.
- The parties agree to further establish, in writing, best practices and mechanisms to monitor and enforce established safety protocols, and to revisit the subjects addressed herein, as necessitated by parent, student, and employee feedback; FDOH updates; recommendations from health authorities; changes in the law; changes of the course or severity of the Pandemic; and the evolving needs of parents, students, and employees.