As we enter the month of August and the actual beginning of school, as currently decided by the Pasco County School Board, is upon us, USEP has taken several actions to ensure the safety and protection of our members!
First of all, as many of you know by now, the Union’s Representative Council met (zoom) on July 22nd and voted on a resolution to emphasize the following:
“In order to promote Health & Safety for students and staff, USEP will strongly advocate for the District to conduct schools in a “Distance Learning Only” format until there is a 14-Day downward trend in positive COVID-19 cases.”
The union believes and our members stated overwhelmingly in a recent survey, that there is simply no way that it will be safe to return to brick & mortar schools at this time considering the 10.0%+ positivity rate in our county. The CDC and other health organizations continue to tout that a 14-day downward trend and a positivity rate of 5.0% or less is necessary before it would be considered “safe” for staff and students to return to schools. It must be stated clearly, USEP is NOT against an actual return to school buildings and academics. But we are strongly opposed to returning on August 24th with the stats being what they are at this time.
To emphasize this point to the local community and to District management, we’ve invited several local television station reporters and Jeff Solocheck of the Tampa Bay Times to our offices to interview 3 members of the union to voice their concerns with a physical return to our schools at this time. The members participating in this important action are Christine Andersen, a teacher from Land O’Lakes HS, Renee Marsella, a teacher from Wiregrass Elementary, and Maryann Brini, a School Bus Operator from the Central Bus Garage. Please tune in today, starting around 5:00pm to Channel 10 (CBS), Channel 9 (Bay News Nine) and the TB Times’ “Gradebook” for these interviews. Please encourage your family and friends to watch these interviews and spread the word of the union’s safety position.
Finally, USEP has also decided to take legal action and will seek an injunction to prevent schools from opening for safety & health reasons. We do this to allow common sense to prevail and provide a virtual opening to this unprecedented school year!