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Safety in our schools

We have powerful tools like safety committees to enforce cleanliness, staffing, mitigation protocols and more in our schools. Learn how to wield those tools here.
Last updated March 9, 2022.

Safety Office Hours

Throughout the month of March, CTU field reps and organizers are hosting Safety office hours every Tuesday and Thursday to provide members with the opportunity to ask questions about safety committees, brainstorm action plans with other members, and share their successes and struggles.

Safety office hours
Tuesdays and Thursdays
4:30 – 5:30 pm

ctulocal1.org/SafetyHour

To learn more, email Jim Cavallero at JamesCavallero@ctulocal1.org or Rebecca Martinez at RebeccaMartinez@ctulocal1.org.

Safety Committees

Purpose

The purpose of your school’s safety committee is to uphold appropriate safety standards in your school by identifying problem areas and then working to resolve these issues with your principal and, when necessary, the district.

Safety committees should be guided by the January 2022 Safety Agreement between the CTU and the mayor’s team at CPS. The January 2022 agreement updates the 2021 Safety Agreement and its High School Addendum (note that provision 9a of the new agreement specifies those provisions of the prior agreement that remain in place). Those documents outline a set of mitigations that, if enforced, can make building conditions safer for staff and students.

Structure

Your building safety committee should be composed of four CTU members, the principal, the building engineer, and a reasonable number of employees from other unions in the school (possibilities include security guard, SECA, lunchroom staff, or janitor from SEIU Local 73).

How to choose committee members

The delegate will reach out (hold a virtual meeting) to ask for three to four CTU members to volunteer for the committee. If there are more than four CTU members interested in joining the committee, you may decide to hold an election.

This is also a good opportunity to draw in newly energized members committed to improving safety and, especially in a large or two-building school, to encourage people who work in different areas of the school to get involved.

In many cases, especially if volunteers are limited, the PPC members can step in and become part of the Safety Committee. We strongly suggest that those working in-person (rather than remotely) make up the committee.

The delegate can sit on the committee, but does not necessarily have to be the committee chair, but the committee should designate a CTU member to serve as the committee chair.

Encourage a school clerk and/or clinician to join the safety committee, depending on the needs and population of your school and the safety issues you anticipate.

The committee chair should submit the complete list of safety committee members to your principal and to the Union using this form.

Function

Hold weekly safety committee meetings with the principal, and use the agreed checklist to flag issues that need to be resolved.

Consider reaching out to LSC members and attending LSC meetings to report on safety issues to keep all members of the school community informed about and engaged with the implementation of safety measures.

Submitting an incident report

If the principal is unwilling or unable to resolve issues flagged by the safety committee, then the safety committee should file an incident report using this form. Before you do, make sure you have attempted to resolve the issue at the school level first. Many problems, such as ordering needed supplies, masking enforcement, etc., can and should be resolved by the committee in collaboration with the principal. Filing an incident report, which escalates the issue to the district-wide safety committee, should be pursued only if the building-level safety committee is unable to resolve the problem. Depending on the issue, you may also want to file a grievance, work with the LSC, talk to parents, organize an action, etc.

What kind of issues should be brought up to the safety committee?

Violations of the Agreement as well as other safety concerns that get raised in your building. If something isn’t specified in the Agreement, it can still be taken up by the safety committee under Article 14 of the contract that guarantees the right to a Safe and Healthy Work Environment.

What new powers does the Safety Committee have under the January 2022 Safety Agreement?

  • Flip a school to remote if the metric from MOU is met (see Provision 4b of the January 2022 Safety Agreement);
  • Daily access to a CPS portal with school data related to Covid-19 quarantine/absences;
  • Reinstate health screener at school if desired (see Provision 3 of the January 2022 Safety Agreement).

Flip-to-Remote Protocol

As stipulated in Provision 4b of the January 2022 Safety Agreement, one of the following two criteria must be met to flip a school to remote learning:

EITHER:

  • At least 30% of a school’s classroom teachers are absent for two consecutive days because of the employees’ documented positive Covid-19 cases (confirmed by OSHW) AND school-wide teacher absence rate due to positive Covid-19 cases/OSHW quarantine/isolation remains above 25% even with subs and internal staff.

OR:

  • During a COVID-19 surge, more than 40% of the school’s student population has been instructed to isolate/quarantine by OSHW or CDPH; or during other periods of community transmission, more than 50% of the school’s student population has been instructed to isolate/quarantine by OSHW or CDPH.

Contact Tracing Team

  • School staff serve as contact tracers for student cases from that school.
  • The school staff members will provide updates of non-confidential info to the school safety committee for their consideration.
  • The Contact Tracing Team will have daily access to a CPS portal with school data related to Covid-19 quarantine/absences.
  • Staff who serve as contact tracers must complete paid regular mandatory contact tracing training and sign a confidentiality agreement as part of this extra-duty role.
  • Training is required. If you completed any of the training, look up the training that CPS has recorded for you at ctulocal1.org/tracing.
  • School-based staff members who volunteer to participate will perform contact tracing duties for student Covid cases outside of their regular work hours and will receive the non-instructional rate of pay for each additional hour of work associated with contact tracing.
  • Principals may try to handpick their people to serve on both the safety committee and to take on the role of contact tracing. Think about who would be key to make contact tracing successful and who will collaborate with the safety committee.

Testing Consent Phone Bankers

  • Phone bankers will work to obtain informed consent from parents and guardians for student testing.
  • Phone bankers will also facilitate vaccination efforts.
  • Volunteers will receive the non-instructional rate of pay for time spent phone banking outside of their regular work day.
  • Guidance for obtaining verbal consent can be found at ctulocal1.org/testconsent.

Student Testing and Vaccination Participation Captain

  • The Student Testing and Vaccination Participation Captain will conduct outreach to families, parent groups, and LSCs at each school to facilitate parental consent for testing their students and to advocate for and coordinate vaccination drives.
  • CPS will provide a $1,000 stipend for this role.

Key Issues the Committees Should Address

We need robust testing and vaccination

Early detection of school COVID cases can save lives. Where students or educators test positive for COVID, classrooms can and should be quickly quarantined. Yet, CPS has so far done very little to help parents opt their students in for testing. In a system where signing consent forms is routine, the district has made opting into safety so unreasonably difficult that more students can attend a field trip than get these life-saving tests.

Nevertheless, the 2022 agreement has secured additional testing in the following areas:

  • Weekly testing of at least 10% of students at each school;
  • Additional testing for schools experiencing a significant increase in Covid numbers;
  • Rapid tests for students who visit the care room with Covid symptoms, once parental consent is secured; and
  • Extra in-school testing for schools that flip to remote.

We’ve fought for these additional layers of testing and need to organize to ensure that CPS is providing them.

You can see for yourself how many students have opted in at your school. You can use this CPS guidance to secure testing consent from parents over the phone. Phone banking to secure testing consent is a paid opportunity for staff to help make their school buildings safer. See Provision 5c of the January 2022 Safety Agreement for details.

Or you can share this opt-in guidance flyer with parents who prefer to fill out the form themselves.

Cleaning

Aramark’s failure in cleaning our schools was a problem even before the pandemic. Our students still try to learn in filthy conditions at too many schools. Use the resources on our Facilities, Cleanliness and Safety page to track cleaning problems and file a grievance. In particular, you can get immediate attention when you use our Aramark direct report form to alert Aramark managers and CPS Facilities managers to specific problems.

Members, delegates, parents, students and others can also report issues to our CTU COVID tracker at www.ctulocal1.org/tracker.

Looking for more?

We’ve collected a lot of useful links in the right-hand column at the top of this page. If you still need help answering a question or dealing with something not addressed here, please contact your school’s organizer or field rep.

Forms & Resources

Safety Committee Resources

Reference Information

* CPS issued the Principal Guidance unilaterally and prior to our safety agreements. Where it contradicts our safety agreements or our contract, the agreements and the contract supersede that guidance.

General CTU Information

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