SPRINGFIELD – Today, the Illinois Education Association (IEA) announced IEACOVIDTracker.org, an online tool where educators in more than 950 IEA locals can now report outbreaks, safety issues, check for outbreaks reported by the Illinois Department of Public Health and share stories of what it’s like to be an educator during a pandemic.
The IEACOVIDTRACKER.org is another in a series of steps the IEA has taken to keep its members, Illinois students and families safe during this pandemic. Others include releasing guidance on reopening schools, calling on the Illinois Department of Public Health to enforce clear metrics for schools to guide them for any future closures, empaneling a group of pediatricians to review school reopening plans to determine whether they were safe, among other measures. The IEACOVIDTRACKER.org is designed to track IDPH outbreaks at schools and colleges and crowdsource problems that may not have been reported around the state. This information can be utilized by unions and by communities as they work to ensure safe working and learning conditions.
“Educators all over the state now have a way to report what they are seeing and hearing. There is power in that collective voice. When educators rise up and use their voices, it makes an impact,” said Kathi Griffin, IEA president. “Our members now have a way to organize, mobilize, keep their communities, elected and health officials informed about what’s happening in their districts or on their campuses. We encourage them to join their fellow educators from around the state and use their voices.”
The IEA tool piggybacks off a tool already being utilized by the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT).
“Some districts have been great about working with local unions on health and safety issues. Others have not. IFT has been using this tool for a little while now and have found it’s been very helpful for our members and members of the communities where they live to be able to crowdsource issues they spot,” said Dan Montgomery, IFT president. “Everyone deserves to feel safe at work. Now educators statewide have a way to report problems in their school buildings, on their campuses or at their worksite.”
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.
“There is one thing we know, when our members have safe working conditions, our students have safe learning conditions,” Griffin said.
For more information on the IEA COVID Tracker, check out this video on the IEA Facebook page.
The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.