Reopening Agreement Reached

Unite Summit and Summit Public Schools have reached an agreement on school reopening! For the rest of the school year, school leaders will have the option to open campus as a workspace for a limited number of students.  All the teachers responsible for supervising these workspaces will be volunteers.  

This newsletter will help you understand the agreement for reopening campuses, including the process to volunteer; the potential for a stipend; and what decisions are made by site leadership.  Reach out to your bargaining rep with any remaining questions.

These last few weeks of negotiations have been so hard for us, as teachers.  We are in this profession because we care about young people — and we have all grappled with the imperative to provide a workspace for students who need one, when we know that many teachers would risk their lives and lives of their loved ones by being in a classroom.  We have always known that teachers deserve self-determination in this decision.

We are excited about this agreement: it provides profound relief for teachers who faced enormous challenges in a potential mandatory return, provides the ability for our students to learn in a safe space, and puts in writing a point that seemed crucial to Summit admin — that we will be returning to school in person next school year barring any public health orders (something that we have never disputed; we very much hope to be teaching our students in-person next school year!).

We came to this agreement because of your tireless work in supporting our bargaining team and reaching out to admin and families.  

This is why we formed our union: to protect teachers, but also to give students what they need.   By fighting for this agreement, you helped  ensure that students who need to be in the schools will be able to return as soon as possible.

Voluntary Return

Teachers told us that a voluntary return was the most important non-negotiable in Unite Summit’s negotiations with SPS leadership. Due to your advocacy, Red Team support, and continued pressure, SPS’s bargaining team backed off their demand that teachers should be required to return to campus.

In the signed agreement, teachers have the ability to choose for themselves if they want to come to campus, and when. SPS will send out a survey to your school email to gather volunteers for each phase of opening. Expedition teachers can indicate at which site they will volunteer if they choose to do so. Currently, the relevant dates are:
 Phase 1: No sooner than March 31st (teacher) and April 1st (student) Please fill out the survey before March 24th to indicate your willingness to return in Phase 1.
Phase 2: No sooner than April 21st (teacher) and April 22nd (student) Please fill out the survey before April 12th to indicate your willingness to return in Phase 2.
Phase 3: No sooner than May 5th (teacher) and May 6th (student) Please fill out the survey before April 26th to indicate your willingness to return in Phase 3. 

Sites must have 2 weeks with no new positive COVID cases resulting from in-school transmission before moving to the next phase.


IMPORTANT: We want to make it extremely clear that while the stipends listed below are a possibility, they are not guaranteed. The stipends are contingent on a site by site basis and depend on Summit receiving reopening grants from the State. In the event that an individual school does not qualify for the grants specifically due to not having enough volunteers to open, volunteers at that site would not receive a stipend.  If a site does not get funding for some other reason, then volunteers will still receive a stipend. Please note that we did inform Summit that the lack of guarantee around a stipend and the relatively small stipend amounts could shrink the pool of volunteers

Stipend Payment: If a school qualifies for the grants, volunteers at that school will be paid their stipend in their last paycheck for the year. This would be June for new hires and teachers who chose the 11 month pay cycle, and July for teachers who chose the 12 month pay cycle.

Stipend Amount: The one time stipend amount is as follows:

  • Start Phase 1: $1,000
  • Start Phase 2: $500
  • Start Phase 3: $250

What would volunteers do on campus?

THE COHORT MODEL: You and one other teacher share supervision responsibilities for a maximum of 14 students.  You may have fewer students depending on the size of the room.   You and your co-supervisor decide who supervises when; the only requirement is for one teacher to be in the room at all times. In other words, you will not be required to be in the same room at the same time as the other teacher and your student cohort.  You will each have a second workspace for when you are not supervising.  You are not guaranteed protected prep time or lunch break.   Site-based plans (TBD): what happens if a teacher is absent, and substitute plan. Supervision coverage for lunch.

THE PHYSICAL CLASSROOM: Students will be six feet apart. The room will have a HEPA air purifier appropriate for the capacity of the room.  All student desks will have a visual of safety protocols and procedures attached to it.  The room will be equipped with sanitizing and cleaning supplies.

HEALTH PROTOCOLS AND PROCEDURES: Cohorts will enter the building and move to the classroom along an assigned route. Cohorts are not allowed to mix. Students will be provided with masks that meet CDC guidelines.  Teachers will be provided with masks, face shields, and gloves.  All will be expected to follow masking guidelines.  Site-based plans (TBD): how to address students if they break any health guidelines.

FOOD AND DRINK: When eating and drinking, it is not required to wear a mask.  Site-based plans (TBD): there is no requirement as to where lunch is held, and therefore sites have leeway to designate eating areas in a way that minimizes COVID transmission, such as outside.

THE SCHEDULE: Teachers will supervise Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday 8-3:20 and are not required to be in the classroom for after-school meetings.  Wednesdays will be fully remote.

Site Decisions

The following are all dependent on each site. Please contact your site leadership for more clarity on the following:

  • Safety Protocols (including what happens if students break a safety protocol)
  • Substitutes
  • Student cohort assignments 
  • Bathroom and break time rules
  • Eating/drinking within the classroom/outside (if in room, must be 6 feet apart)

2021-2022 School Year

We do want to remind members this agreement is for the 20/21 school year. Unless state or county guidelines or orders change, the expectation is that all teachers will be returning to their respective campuses next school year. 

Thank you for all you do for our schools and our students. Your work is valuable and appreciated. We are excited for our school buildings to be open soon!