State Watch

Judge halts return to in-person classes for some Minneapolis teachers

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A Minneapolis judge issued an order last weekend that allowed some Minneapolis Public School District (MPS) teachers and staff to not return to in-person learning due to COVID-19 concerns.

CNN reports that Hennepin County District Judge Susan Robiner ruled that teachers and staff who had accommodations that allowed them to work from home did not have to return to in-person teaching. MPS faculty and staff were expected to return to in-person instruction on Monday.

“The risk of contracting a serious illness which has killed almost a half-million persons in the United States is axiomatically a profound harm,” Robiner wrote in her ruling.

The decision came after the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and Education Support Professionals accused MPS of not providing accommodations to teachers and staff who had a higher chance of developing a severe case of COVID-19 or those who were taking care of others with a higher risk CNN reports.

“We are fully complying with the order,” MPS Superintendent Ed Graff said in the statement. “Our concern is making sure employees who qualify for ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] and FMLA [Family and Medical Leave Act] accommodations are able to receive them, and that we follow the Governor’s order to provide accommodations to the extent possible.”

According to court documents obtained by CNN, the school district voted to return to in-person learning on Jan. 19. Among the MPS families, 48 percent voted in favor of returning to in-person learning, 40 percent wanted to continue at-home learning and 11 percent did not respond.

“We know we have members who are willing to go back in-person, and we know people who need to stay working remotely,” Shaun Laden, the teachers union chapter president, said. “We hope this court order will bring more conversations on how we can work together so all of our students, staff, families and communities are comfortable with the plans.”

Tags in-person learning Minneapolis

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