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State teachers group files grievance with local school district over COVID-19 risk

A statewide teachers group filed a grievance Tuesday with the Killeen ISD on behalf of educators “forced to work in unsafe conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.” (File)
A statewide teachers group filed a grievance Tuesday with the Killeen ISD on behalf of educators “forced to work in unsafe conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.” (File)(WILX)
Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 2:23 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2020 at 8:00 PM CDT
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) – The 68,000-member Texas State Teachers Association filed a grievance Tuesday with the Killeen ISD on behalf of members of the Killeen Educators Association who “have been forced to work in unsafe conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“The safety of the students, the staff and the KISD community must come first,” Killeen Educators Association President Rick Beaule said.

“This isn’t about whether we want to work. We desperately want to teach our students to be the best they can be. This just can’t happen as we stand right now. Student cases have already begun to rise.”

The district declined to comment on the grievance Tuesday.

“It would be highly inappropriate for either party to discuss a grievance before the grievance process is adhered to, and has been fully exhausted, particularly in an effort to forge public opinion,” spokeswoman Taina Maya said.

The district started virtual instruction on Aug. 17 and initially planned on resume on-campus instruction on Sept. 8, but on Aug. 25 Superintendent John Craft announced the start date had been moved up to Aug. 31 because of technology issues.

“We do not believe that this decision was made in the best interests of our members, employees or the students of Killeen Independent School District,” TSTA staff attorney Amanda Moore, wrote in a letter accompanying the grievance.

“We are concerned about the school district’s ability to adequately support and protect our members. Our members should not be required to work under unsafe working conditions.”

According to the grievance, the district has denied requests for more effective air filters; employees who interact most with children aren’t provided with face shields; not all employees are provided with cleaning supplies, and social distancing isn’t enforced effectively in cafeterias and physical education classes.

Educators want personal protection equipment for every employee on KISD campuses and a suspension of on-campus instruction.

The Killeen ISD’s online dashboard Tuesday showed 51 confirmed cases involving staff and five involving students since March 16. An active case involving a student was reported at Bellaire Elementary; an active case involving a staff member was reported at Hay Branch Elementary; one active case involving an employee was reported at Hay Branch Elementary; one active case involving an employee was reported at Pershing Park Elementary; an active case involving an employee was reported at Reeces Creek Elementary; an active case involving a student was reported at West Ward Elementary; an active case involving a student was reported at Venable Village Elementary; two active cases involving students were reported at Killeen High School, and one active case involving an employee at a non-campus facility was reported.

Copyright 2020 KWTX. All rights reserved.

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