Detroit School Paraprofessionals Want Option to Work Remotely

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Detroit Public Schools Community District’s para-educators and food service workers seek an option to work remotely. Teachers already have the remote work option. The Detroit Federation of Paraprofessionals sent an open letter to the DPSCD school board on Tuesday. The letter entailed a request to allow members to choose how they wish to work. Whether they want to work in-person or they wish to work remotely, they should have both the options to choose from.

“We are extremely concerned about the district’s decision to move forward with requiring our members report in-person on Wednesday, April 21. COVID-19 is surging in our city. At a time when one of our members has died from COVID-19 and rates are skyrocketing in Detroit, we continue to feel that the district views our members as expendable, second-class employees.”Donna Jackson, President of the DFP

The Demand to Work Remotely

In-person learning was halted by DPSCD through May 18. However, on Monday, the Learning Centers will become operational, where students will be able to learn online with teachers but this will not be from home. This will be at a school.

According to Jackson, the board should make working remotely an option. For those members who choose to work in an in-person environment, they need to be “adequately compensated for the health risks they’re enduring.”

“Our members have continually risked their health during this pandemic. The current conditions are extremely threatening.” Donna Jackson, President of the DFP

DPSCD’s Response to the Demand

Chrystal Wilson, spokeswoman for DPSCD, said that all school employees throughout Michigan, including paraprofessionals, have been working in-person to support students in schools in cities that have higher infection rates than Detroit’s current infection rate.

“DPSCD is revisiting the 5% infection rate because the threshold is too low considering access to the vaccine and better understanding of the science connected to mitigating COVID-19 spread and exposure through strategies such as mask-wearing, social distancing, cleaning, hand-washing and COVID testing. The district is deeply appreciative and recognizes the fact that it has been paraprofessionals and other school support staff who have allowed all district school buildings to be open to families who cannot support their children at home through online learning”Chrystal Wilson, Spokeswoman for DPSCD

$3,000 have been provided to all paraprofessionals by the district in hazard pay to work in person. The district offered DFP an additional hazard pay for in-person work in the fourth quarter, but according to Wilson, the union has rejected this offer.

What is The Current Situation?

  • Almost 10,000 DPSCD families sent children to the Learning Centers.
  • Nearly 20,000 families have asked DPSCD for in-person learning. However, only 1,000 families received in-person sessions last month.

Employees, including paraprofessionals with any underlying health conditions, are entitled to federally protected leaves.

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