Westmont, IL – Today, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) announced the launch of the IFT COVID Tracker. During the pandemic, the IFT has prioritized keeping teachers, students, and their families safe by releasing guidance on reopening schools and calling on the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to establish and enforce clear metrics for schools to guide them for any future closures. The new interactive website is designed to help track coronavirus-related health and safety concerns in real time for schools and campuses across the state. This information will be utilized by unions and communities in their continued efforts to ensure safe learning and working conditions.
As COVID positivity rates surge or remain high, we must have a clear picture of critical health data in our buildings and communities before schools and institutions reopen. The IFT COVID Tracker helps to gather that data by crowdsourcing reports of health and safety violations and concerns identified by staff members, parents, and community members. The site includes a mapping tool that shows district-by-district information reported to the IFT to help easily identify issues in each area. The IFT COVID Tracker will also show all school-related outbreaks as reported on the IDPH COVID-19 School Outbreaks dashboard. The data will help our unions draw comparisons between various areas and identify any potential “hot spots.”
“Some employers are working closely with their local unions to prioritize health and safety for employees and students, but others are ignoring the science and our members’ voices in important conversations about reopening,” said IFT President Dan Montgomery. “The IFT COVID Tracker gives our members and the community a place to report issues and concerns so we have a central source of data about school and campus safety that we can point to as we work to develop local agreements surrounding safety issues.”
Rachel Esposito, Cicero Council (Local 571) president, IFT vice president, and teacher at Unity Junior High School added, “In Cicero, the school superintendent is demanding the return of teachers and students to potentially unsafe buildings, even though the COVID positivity rate is in the double digits. The tracker will give us a tool to hold school districts accountable and an avenue to report potential hot spots to prevent further spread.”
Members are encouraged to submit reports of cases or unsafe conditions in their workplaces on the website’s homepage by clicking “Submit a Report.” All reports submitted will be reviewed and the identity of submitters will remain anonymous. Members are also urged to share their personal stories and concerns about safety via the site.
Similar websites are being used effectively by the Chicago Teachers Union and AFT unions in Massachusetts and Texas to identify safety issues. (Note that the IFT COVID Tracker also tracks reports from CPS/CTU).
“Everyone deserves to feel safe at work,” added Montgomery. “And kids and parents deserve to learn safely. The new IFT COVID Tracker provides us with another tool in our fight for healthy schools by raising awareness of safety issues and collecting data we can use to hold employers accountable and keep elected officials and the public informed.”