Orange County teachers union at impasse with school district over COVID-19 protocols

Disputed safety issues will now go before special magistrate

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The union representing teachers in Orange County has declared an impasse with the school district over health and safety protocols for the upcoming school year.

During a meeting Wednesday night, the president of the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association said the impasse came as a result of an unacceptable COVID-19 safety plan while cases of the virus are rapidly spreading.

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“We have an obligation to ensure protections, working conditions for our teachers,” OCTA President Wendy Doromal said.

One of the big issues singled out by the union was the OCPS COVID-19 Health and Safety Procedures Manual, which was reduced from 88 to 23 pages.

“They took out all these provisions that were there when COVID wasn’t even as bad as it is now,” Doromal said.  “We would like to end the pandemic and that’s why we’re so concerned with safety in schools.”

Another concern surrounded the ability for OCPS to alter safety rules without input from teachers.

“The district wanted to be able to change at any time instead of signing an agreement,” Doromal said. “They want to have complete control and their idea of control is not our idea of safety.”

Under the impasse, the disputed safety issues will go before a special magistrate and eventually could move to the school board for a decision.

Currently, masks are required in schools for employees, vendors, and visitors, but are optional for students.

Classes in Orange County begin on Aug. 10.

About the Author:

Mark Lehman became a News 6 reporter in July 2014, but he's been a Central Florida journalist and part of the News 6 team for much longer. While most people are fast asleep in their bed, Mark starts his day overnight by searching for news on the streets of Central Florida.