Detroit school paraprofessionals seek remote work option


Para-educators and food service workers in the Detroit Public Schools Community District say they have the same option as teachers and want to decide whether to work in the classroom when COVID-19 rates rise.

On Tuesday, the Detroit Federation of Paraprofessionals sent an open letter to the DPSCD school board asking them to allow members to work in person and to compensate those who do.

“We are extremely concerned about the district’s decision to personally report our members on Wednesday April 21st. COVID-19 is on the rise in our city,” wrote Donna Jackson, president of the DFP.

“At a time when one of our members has died of COVID-19 and rates are skyrocketing in Detroit, we continue to feel that the district views our members as expendable second-class employees.”

DPSCD has suspended in-person learning until May 18, but learning centers will reopen on Monday, where students can study online with teachers but at a school. Students can also get additional study support from staff and have breakfast and lunch.

Jackson urged the board of directors to volunteer personal work and members who choose to be “adequately compensated for the health risks they pose”.

“Our members have consistently put their health at risk during this pandemic. Current conditions are extremely threatening,” Jackson said

About 20.5% of COVID-19 tests in the city are positive. The state’s positivity rate has dropped to around 15%, according to its database.

Chrystal Wilson, spokeswoman for DPSCD, said school employees, including paraprofessional staff, are personally working to support students in schools across Michigan in cities with infection rates near or higher than Detroit’s current infection rate.

“DPSCD is re-examining the 5% infection rate as the threshold, given access to the vaccine and better understanding of the science associated with reducing the spread and exposure of COVID-19 through strategies such as mask-wearing, social distancing, cleaning, hand-held is, is too low. Washing and COVID testing, “said Wilson.

The DFP agreed to require its members to work in person throughout the school year, Wilson said, because the union believed they needed to support those students whose families felt it was necessary and safe to send their children to school send.

“The district is deeply grateful and recognizes the fact that it was paraprofessional and other school support workers who made it possible for all school buildings in the district to be open to families who cannot support their children at home through online learning.” , she said.

The district gave $ 3,000 in hazard cash to all paraprofessional and school workers to work in person, Wilson said. The district recently offered DFP an additional hazard payment for personal work in the fourth quarter, but the union refused to accept it, according to Wilson.

Nearly 10,000 DPSCD families have sent children to the district’s learning centers to assist staff when teachers choose to work online, she said.

DPSCD has nearly 20,000 families asking for face-to-face learning, but only 1,000 families received these sessions in the last month.

Wilson said individual employees, including paraprofessional workers with underlying health conditions, are encouraged and eligible to apply for government-protected leave.

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Dusty Kennedy