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Proviso Teachers' Union Files Grievance Over Building Safety Concerns


Students in the Proviso School District are still learning remotely as COVID-19 case rates go up across Illinois. But their teachers are now working inside the district’s school buildings, despite safety concerns and the Teachers’ Union filing of an Unfair Labor Practice & Grievance against the district.


Almost 300 Proviso teachers have been back for a week now. Maggie Riley -- she’s the president of the Proviso Teachers’ Union -- said the conditions are exactly what they were worried about. 


“So, we have one building, Proviso East, that currently does not have heat. We have two buildings that do not have enough or don't have hot water in many of the common area bathrooms,” she said. “We have one building, the Math and Science Academy, that cannot open windows because of the way the building is constructed.”


Teachers have reported to the union some room temperatures reaching 56 degrees. They also say PPE hasn’t been distributed enough, and the district hasn’t answered them about how often buildings are sanitized. 


Superintendent James Henderson said all the high school buildings have hot water and that the district has put adequate safety measures in place. 


Riley said it’s puzzling to hear Henderson say there’s no reason for concern, given what teachers have faced since going back.


“Teachers have lots of frustrations. You know, we had a signed agreement with the district, and they're not abiding by the terms of that agreement,” she said.


According to administrators, the reason behind the return to the classroom was to give educators access to more technology for remote teaching. But Riley said they haven’t seen issues with a lack of technology working from home. 


The district is tentatively planning to bring students back to the buildings in January. But she said, as of now, the buildings aren’t safe enough for teachers, let alone the students.