Fighting for You: Class grievance filed for educational assistants’ health & safety
February 05, 2021
At some schools, educational assistants or administrative staff are required to physically help and supervise students in so-called “learning hubs” while teachers remain isolated in classrooms and provide virtual instruction.
After repeated attempts to secure clear procedures and guidelines from the state Department of Education (DOE) regarding the creation and use of learning hubs, HGEA filed a class grievance on behalf of educational assistants statewide for concerns over the employees’ health and safety.
Union Agent Wes Tufaga said that in some cases, over 40 students are being squeezed into shared spaces that the DOE labels as a learning hub.
"We’re still trying to get the formal definition of a learning hub,” said Tufaga. “There doesn’t seem to be any clear directive from the department on how or when to create them, who is responsible to provide supervision and many other questions that so far haven’t been answered.”
"I’ve seen it. They used to have the long cafeteria tables, but those have been taken out and individual desks and chairs were brought in so they can keep adding more students to the room,” he added.
Union Agent Chad Ngai said forcing educational assistants to work in learning hubs is contrary to their actual job description. “Educational assistants are supposed to assist with educational activities, not instruction. So when we heard that our members are being left alone to supervise students in learning hubs while some teachers are able to work from home or remain isolated in their classrooms, we knew we had to start building our case to fight for our members.”
After recently receiving the denial for Step 2 in the grievance process, HGEA filed our intent to arbitrate. We’ll keep you updated on this matter via eBulletin