Brighton area schools respond to teacher grievances about COVID-19 safety protocols

Posted at 5:37 PM, Oct 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-27 18:07:33-04

BRIGHTON, Michigan (WXYZ) — Teachers in Brighton are filing union grievances concerned about COVID-19 safety protocols. They are asking: is enough being done to protect students and staff?

“The biggest one is overcrowding. I mean, no social distancing,” said Barry Goode, the Brighton Education Association Union president.

That was the focus of one grievance the union filed. The district responded at the board meeting Monday evening, acknowledging there simply is not enough space in schools to practice social distancing.

The other concern? The grievance said cleaning products teachers are being told to use to sanitize between classes are not EPA approved.

“They were very concerned about the cleaning products because they say things like, 'can cause irritation to eyes' and stuff like that," Goode said. "And you have to be wearing goggles and gloves and all this stuff. They are like, how much do they think we can do during passing period."

The district says the products are are state approved. The district responded to both concerns saying it saw no contract violation.

The district told 7 Action News, “The BEA was unable to provide any evidence that its members have been harmed by the use of the disinfectant or by the social distancing limitations of in-person instruction.”

Union President Goode acknowledges so far teachers have not suffered known health consequences, but he says that doesn’t mean they aren’t impacted. Using the restroom and preparing for class is impossible to do while cleaning. Plus, while no teachers are known to have contracted COVID-19 at school, a teacher has had to quarantine due to potential exposure at school. He is worried teachers will get sick at school in time.

“There’s all kinds of concerns about, you know - am I going to spread this to someone in my family?” Goode said.

One mom we spoke to said she is grateful to teachers voicing concerns to authorities on behalf of everyone’s safety.

“It is a scary time for parents and for kids and doing everything that we can to take precautions is our responsibility,” said Wendy Morrison.

This all comes as the district is in the middle of contract negations with the BEA. The union says teachers have been asked to accept a pay freeze. The district has said in the past it is concerned about the costs of COVID-19.

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