Despite getting $4 billion in federal money for Covid mitigation, the mayor has allowed the school year to begin without a safety agreement in place for district schools. In fact, she has been trying to roll back the mitigations we won in the spring, even as the delta variant ravages Chicago neighborhoods and proves more dangerous and more transmissible in children. So it’s all the more critical that your school’s Safety Committee is up and running on Day One.
You can follow negotiations with the latest bargaining update chart always available at ctulocal1.org/chart and you can download a comparison of last year’s safety mitigations and this year’s mayoral safety rollbacks here. Also, be sure to consult our page of Frequently Asked Questions on Fall 2021 safety conditions. Find the benchmark safety protocols agreed to in the spring and other key links in the Forms and Resources box at rightfollowing the safety committee information below.
Safety Committee Trainings
Join Safety Committee members and CTU staff for a virtual meeting to discuss how to effectively use these school-level teams to address members’ needs.
Here’s a list of upcoming sessions:
- Wednesday, September 8, 5-6 pm (register here)
Organizing Your Committee
The purpose of your school safety committee is to uphold the hard-fought and hard-won Memorandum of Agreement and the High School Addendum that outline a set of mitigations that, if enforced, can make building conditions safer for staff and students, including the bullet-pointed strategies found in 8b (allowing teachers to work remotely if all their students are remote in order to lower the overall number of adults in the building).
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 Building Safety Committee members to your principal and to the Union using this form.
Hold weekly Safety Committee meetings with the principal, and use the preliminary checklist to flag issues that need to be resolved.
At the first meeting, ask what the administration has done to utilize the bullet-pointed strategies found in section 8b of the agreement to keep the number of people in the buildings low. Request rosters and updated in-person numbers for each class and staff assigned to each class. Continue to monitor the situation.
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 through the Safety Committee. Many problems, such as ordering needed supplies, masking enforcement etc., can and should be resolved by the committee. 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.