Rockford Education Association, Harlem Federation of Teachers issue letters to Dr. Martell

The letter was posted on Tuesday morning in the ‘REA Members’ Facebook page.
Published: Sep. 22, 2020 at 12:18 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - The Rockford Education Association sent a letter to Dr. Martell after the most recent Winnebago County Health Department update.

The letter was posted on Tuesday morning in the “REA Members” Facebook page in response to comments REA leadership says Dr. Martell made during an update on Monday afternoon.

Anonymous submission to WIFR
Anonymous submission to WIFR(Anonymous submission to WIFR)

The Harlem Federation of Teachers also sent out a letter in response to Dr. Martell’s statements on Monday.

"The Harlem Federation of Teachers stands with the Rockford Education Association in its statement of disappointment in your public stance toward educators in light of the pandemic. The Federation moves further to point out that we feel that the Winnebago County Health Department has been woefully underprepared to handle the scope of infection that a reopening of schools has triggered. The Federation calls for the following:

● Robust and thorough contact tracing. Many of our infections within buildings could have been prevented if members of our school community would have been contacted by the health department in a timely manner. The department lacks adequate staff and resources to actually do this. When members are contacted, the agent does not necessarily even ask for the names of close contacts.

● A policy for handling potential exposures until tracing can be completed. As it is, they are returned to the classroom and told to wait until the WCHD contacts them.

● Clear thresholds for establishing an “adaptive pause.” It seems that we just keep moving the targets on how bad things need to be to trigger a move to remote.

● Exhaustive reporting on the scope of infection and quarantine. To read the paper last week, a parent would think that four people in the district were in quarantine when it was much closer to 100 times that amount

Our staff is doing amazing work under extremely difficult and frightening circumstances. We need the assurance that those in authority have the safety of our staff and students as their highest priority. Parents need to know that their school is a safe place to send their kids, and right now, we don’t think any of us can give them that assurance.

Yours Truly,

Elana Schelling-Tufte Co-President, Harlem Federation of Teachers

Brad Sweet Co-President, Harlem Federation of Teachers

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