February 5, 2021
PHILADELPHIA—"Other than sheer cruelty and a callous disregard for the lives of educators and school staff, I can't think of another reason to push forward with a reckless plan to reopen unsafe buildings for thousands of staff on Monday.
"As we await further information from the neutral third party, I have advised my membership that they should continue to work remotely on Monday. In fact, they will be able to provide more time in front of students by doing this. Further, it is important to remember that this half baked reopening plan means that fewer than 1/3 of eligible students have even chosen the hybrid option.
"A short while ago, I concluded a meeting with nearly 300 Building Representatives and Members of our Executive Board to discuss our next steps and Monday's actions. Our members, like I am, are outraged and disgusted. They are scared for their lives, and we are all profoundly disturbed by the District's threat of discipline for members who stand up for their own health and safety. It's nothing short of bullying, and I won't stand for it.
"Our Building Representatives will be working with their staffs to plan their Monday actions, and we will share more as the weekend unfolds.
"Again, let me be very clear: our membership wants to be in buildings--when it is safe to do so. The PFT has engaged in months of good faith efforts to develop a plan for reopening safely, and we remain committed to doing just that. I will not allow my members to be vilified for demanding safe conditions for themselves and the students they serve amidst a global pandemic that has claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 Philadelphians."