Pushback From PPS Teachers About Plan To Get Back In Classroom

KDKA's Bryant Reed talks to the head of the union for the teachers about what they are expecting.

Video Transcript

KEN RICE: Pittsburgh Public Schools unveiled their plan to return some students to in-person learning. However, the teachers' union says it was blindsided. They had no idea this plan was coming. Bryant Reed talked to the teachers' union rep, who says they're tired of being left out of the conversation. Bryant.

BRYANT REED: Ken, the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers tells me they were left in the dark when PPS came out with their plan. And while it's nice to look at on paper, it's going to take more than that to feel comfortable with a return.

NINA ESPOSITO-VISGITIS: The district didn't run them by us or anything. Yes, it was certainly not a collaborative effort.

BRYANT REED: Nina Esposito-Visgitis, the president of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, says they were caught off guard when Pittsburgh Public Schools came out with a detailed plan to return kids to the classroom.

NINA ESPOSITO-VISGITIS: You know, I know it's disheartening to us, because a lot of times, we would like to at least have a discussion, or know something is happening. So that does-- it does, to be honest, it gets old.

BRYANT REED: Since the reopening of schools has been a conversation, teachers had hoped they would be vaccinated before the doors opened. But as the expected April 6 return date draws closer, superintendent Dr. Anthony Hamlet says that all teachers being vaccinated is unrealistic. Meanwhile, Esposito-Visgitis says there needs to be more than a mitigation blueprint moving forward to guarantee teachers in the classroom.

NINA ESPOSITO-VISGITIS: I think our members have to feel that they are appreciated, that there is communication, that all of the other layered mitigation is in place. But people have to know. They have to be communicated to, there has to be transparency, there has to be communication.

BRYANT REED: The common goal is a safe return for all. Esposito-Visgitis says teachers just want to be included in the conversations to achieve that.

NINA ESPOSITO-VISGITIS: So I know they're anxious to get back. Our job is to make sure that people can go back safely. Students and educators.

BRYANT REED: Esposito-Visgitis says union and school leaders met for one of the first times today to talk about safety measures. She says she hopes the talks can continue to move forward in preparation for an April return date. Reporting on Mount Washington, I'm Bryant Reed, KDKA News.