Judge rules teachers don't have to report to Cy-Fair schools amid pandemic

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A judge has issued a temporary restraining order against Cy-Fair ISD preventing them from requiring that teachers report for training from Aug. 14 through Sept. 7.

A hearing has been set on the issue for Aug. 28 at 1:30 p.m.

The teachers were due back today for orientation, but the union filed the lawsuit, saying that its members were in imminent increased risk of exposure to COVID-19.

"Our school district has ignored our pleas to reduce the number of school personnel required to be in school buildings because of a surging COVID-19 infection rate in the Houston area. What the district is doing could further spread the virus and contaminate our schools; we don't want to be a part of that problem. Minimizing the number of employees at schools and worksites allows our community to slow the spread and get the virus under control," said Cy-Fair AFT President Nikki Cowart. "As president of Cy-Fair AFT and the parent of two Cy-Fair students, I know that is not the way to start the new school year."

All week, ABC13 has been following parents and teachers who have felt uneasy about returning. On Thursday it was reported that an employee at one of the district's early learning centers tested positive for the virus.

The district, which sits right outside of Houston, has 91 campuses with 116,000 students and 7,800 teachers and other school employees. School starts Sept. 8 and families had to choose all-remote or all in-person learning. A majority of parents who had responded to a district survey selected to keep their children home and do schooling online.

According to Cowart, educators want to return but they agree with Harris County Public Health Director Umair Shah, who said this week that with transmission levels as high as they are in Harris County, "it is simply not safe to do so at this time."

When ABC13 reached out to Cy-Fair ISD for a comment on the lawsuit, the district said it does not comment on pending litigation.

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