PPS administration, teacher’s union work together on return to school plan

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — After bargaining for an agreeable back-to-school plan, the Peoria Federation of Teachers (PFT) at District 150 in Peoria has come to an agreement with the administration.

Jeff Adkins-Dutro, the president of the PFT, said he felt the union was left in the dark on multiple occasions, most recently when the administration decided to extend winter vacation by one week due to the Omicron variant driving up COVID cases.

“If you’re going to do any planning with regards to education, it makes sense to me that you’d have educators at the table,” he said.

Adkins-Dutro said the union wanted to be involved in the back-to-school plan for the second semester because it wanted to ensure there was updated protocol.

“Last time the numbers were a lot lower than this and school was called off. Now they’re a lot higher, and we’re going back, so we wanted to make sure it wasn’t just the exact same plan we had back then [that was] being put forward now,” he said.

In regards to the winter break extension, PPS director of public relations Thomas Bruch said that decision was made in collaboration with the PPS School Board, and feedback from teachers and other staff members.

Bruch said Friday’s meeting about return to school plans ended with a general agreement between the PFT and representatives from PPS administration.

“I know that they provided things that they were looking for and leaving that meeting there was general consensus on how that was going to go about,” Bruch said.

School will move forward on Monday as planned and with union approval, with Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat sending parents an email detailing how the next half of the year will unfold.

Quarantine protocol has been updated to now be five days instead of 10. It has not been approved by the Illinois State Board of Education nor the Illinois Department of Public Health, but it is expected to be adopted soon.

Custodial staff has cleaned and sanitized the buildings and will be addressing all high-traffic and high-touch areas throughout the day, according to Desmoulin-Kherat.

As students and staff prepare to come back to the building Monday, the district has released the following tips:

  • Keep children home if the student has COVID symptoms. Free testing is available at the Peoria Civic Center Monday through Saturday.
  • Talk with students about the importance of mask-wearing.
  • Consider getting the vaccine for children who are eligible. The Peoria Health Department is open for walk-in appointments Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m

Bruch said as students prepare to return, the district will continue to monitor their plans.

“It won’t be we return Monday and that’s set in stone, that’s it. We know that we’re probably going to have to keep continual adjustments just like we have the last two years now that we’ve been a part of this,” Bruch said.

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