SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – The Texas State Teachers Association has filed a grievance with the North East Independent School District concerning the reopening of campuses.  The grievance filed on behalf of the North East Education Association states that teachers and staff were directed to return to campuses to work in unsafe conditions amid the pandemic.

The group noted that the NEISD superintendent allowed all students who want in-person instruction to return to classrooms October 19 as Texas experienced a resurgence of coronavirus infections and the school risk factor for the virus in San Antonio was in the cautionary “yellow zone.”

The North East Education Association (NEEA) believes the directive violates the Texas Education Code and North East board
policy that “campuses will maintain a safe and disciplined environment conducive to student learning.”

NEEA President Adonis Schurmann says the safety of students, school employees and their families must come first.

“The district administration has not provided a safe environment for our members, other district educators and students and has directed us to work in unsafe conditions,” said Schurmann, a social studies teacher.

Schurmann is concerned that social distancing is not possible at many schools. She said that many students will be only two or three feet apart without plexiglass barriers and noted that many classrooms do not have windows, despite the recommendations from health care experts for adequate ventilation.

Although schools north of 1604 are newer and have better ventilation systems, schools east of Interstate 35 and south of Loop 410 with higher numbers of Hispanic, Black and economically disadvantaged students have old ventilation systems that do not work properly.

Among other things, the grievance asks that class sizes be limited to 12 students to ensure social distancing of at least six feet;  that social distancing be enforced throughout campuses;  that the mask requirement be enforced; and that all employees be provided with adequate personal protective equipment, including masks, face shields, disposable gloves and hand sanitizer.

“Our members understand the challenges that the school district is currently facing in order to provide an education to the students of NEISD. However, the employees who actually help to provide this education to the students must be protected and/or provided with alternative ways in order to do so,” read a statement from TSTA.

If the grievance issues are not resolved at the district level, NEEA can file an appeal to the state education commissioner.

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