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Judge grants temporary restraining order to halt Cy-Fair teachers from in-person training

The district is asking all school employees to show up at their schools starting Aug. 14 for professional development training and new teacher orientation.

CYPRESS, Texas — A judge on Friday granted a temporary restraining order against Cy-Fair ISD requiring teachers to attend in-person training.

The Cy-Fair AFT filed a lawsuit Friday in Harris County District Court seeking an injunction to halt the Cypress-Fairbanks ISD’s requirement that teachers and school employees return to campus starting Aug. 14.

The district is asking all school employees to show up at their schools starting Aug. 14 for professional development training and new teacher orientation.

“This is a win for safety, health and common sense. It was unsafe to require teachers to come to school campuses for professional development and new teacher orientation--programs that can take place virtually,” said Nikki Cowart, president of the Cy-Fair AFT.

“We have to get the virus under control, not bring people to campuses unnecessarily and potentially increase the spread. Everything that the district wants to do with professional development and orientation can be done virtually,” she said.

The judge's ruling allows training to be virtual for now.

Cy-Fair ISD superintendent Mark Henry released a statement Saturday regarding the ruling:

"CFISD family, this is a tough time for CFISD and all of our school districts. I know that we all are searching for the best way to deal with this difficult issue. I appreciate AFT, ATPE, TSTA and all of our employees. We’ve enjoyed a great relationship for nine plus years. Let’s pull together and make this dilemma an opportunity to show how we can figure this out. We are working now on some additional accommodations to help keep our staff safe while serving our students. This is where I’m going to live the rest of my life. We’ve got this!"

Cy-Fair ISD 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 selected to keep their children home and do schooling online. After the first grading period, families can make changes to their decision.

Educators want to return to school, Cowart said, 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.”

“This district’s dangerous dictate for educators to return to schools is another needless consequence of Gov. Greg Abbott’s complete disregard for getting COVID-19 under control in Texas,” Texas AFT President Zeph Capo said.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said, “This is another reckless example of ignoring science, safety and basic humanity in the zeal to pretend there is no pandemic affecting the Texas and the United States. Making educators enter Cy-Fair school buildings right now, given the surge in COVID-19 cases in Harris County and without following safety protocols, will jeopardize their health and safety and that of their families and the children they serve. It’s just wrong. Cy-Fair should spend the time planning for a way to reopen school safely, not dangerously.”