ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – After seven hours of negotiating on Thursday, the Orange County Classroom Teacher’s Association officially declared an impasse with Orange County Public Schools on reopening schools amid the coronavirus.
“We could not reach an agreement with the District after weeks and weeks of bargaining so the union declared impasse,” Wendy Doromal, President of the CTA, said. “If you were watching today you can see we are hundreds of miles apart.”
The teacher’s union and the district spent several hours going line-by-line, either striking out, highlighting or adding in language in what was called a Memorandum of Understanding.
“The Memorandum of Understanding is what we agreed to for reopening schools,” Doromal said. “First off, we would not reopen them. We got email after email after email from terrified teachers.”
Re-opening brick-and-mortar schools will happen, according to the school district, in alignment with the state’s emergency order.
"We have the emergency order and we are following the advice of the Florida Department of Health and the local Department of Health," said district negotiator James Preusser. "We believe at this time we are not in a situation where it is unsafe to reopen schools that's our position."
Doromal said the CTA hopes the district will waive the magistrate hearing which is what comes next after an impasse is declared.
”We hope that the District will waive a special magistrate hearing so we can go directly to the school board to resolve these life and death issues,” she said.
The school year in Orange County starts on Monday with virtual and LaunchEd students. In person learning begins Aug. 21 for those students who have opted in.