Minnesota teachers union goes to bat for teachers who can't safely return to classrooms

The Minnesota state teacher's union says some educators are being denied when they request to work from home over COVID-19 concerns.

Education Minnesota now says it will take action if necessary.

“There are educators who are very worried about their own health because of underlying risks or are worried about the health of someone else in their home so what they’re asking for is the accommodation to work remotely to work from home,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota.

The union says it has heard more districts saying no to teachers who are hoping to opt out.

FOX 9 heard from teachers about this issue, including one who didn’t want to go on camera for fear of losing their job. They told us they were denied the option to work from home, even with a doctor’s note explaining their underlying health conditions.

Education Minnesota recently released a statement on their website outlining a few of the issues they’ve heard from teachers, including:

“At least one district updated its teacher job description to include instruction ‘in the classroom’ as an essential job function for the first time.”

The union learned of several districts saying remote instruction during distance learning must be taught from the school building, despite being able to do it remotely. The Governor’s executive order does address the issue of teacher concerns, saying the districts, “must allow school staff whose health is at risk or who have members of their household whose health is at risk to work from home to the extent possible.”

Education Minnesota says many districts are working closely with teachers, but they’re concerned about the ones who aren’t.

“We’ve got our legal team on this,” said Specht. “We’re helping them write letters. We are helping them file the necessary complaints, but honestly, it really shouldn’t come to this.”