Press Release

St. Croix’s Educators Celebrate Victory in Court, Continue Fighting for Dire School Infrastructure Improvements in Record Heat

For Release:


Oriana Korin

St. Croix’s Educators Celebrate Victory in Court, Continue Fighting for Dire School Infrastructure Improvements in Record Heat

ST. CROIX, Virgin Islands—Amid ongoing job actions protesting dangerous teaching and learning conditions in schools on the island, a judge ruled today to lift an injunction that demanded educators cease all job actions and return to work, allowing educators to continue their collective effort to make schools safer for students and staff. AFT President Randi Weingarten and St. Croix Federation of Teachers President Rosa Soto-Thomas issued the following statements in response:

Weingarten said:

“Educators’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions, and no one can work or learn safely in record heat, with no functional air conditioning or ventilation. The conditions of schools on the island were already dire, with many lacking safe drinking water and reliable electricity. Every teacher wants what’s best for their students, and that means being in the classroom learning, but if government can’t even provide baseline functional school buildings, then we have to stand up for the health and safety of the entire educational community. Record heat is no longer the exception, it’s the norm, and it’s long past time schools in St. Croix get the HVAC systems and other improvements they need, instead of treating kids and schools like second-class citizens. Thankfully, the judge saw that the fault doesn’t lie with the teachers trying to come together and call attention to these issues, but with the Education Department for its complete negligence and lack of action. If we want our kids to learn, we have to give them a safe place to do so.”

Soto-Thomas said:

“The reality of these dire conditions doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone: We have filed grievances and Occupational Safety and Health Administration complaints, and we have pleaded to be taken seriously. Our contract requires safe working conditions, but more importantly, our students deserve them. When 50 percent of schools lack functioning air conditioning and temperatures continue to rise, we’re far past the point of a small inconvenience or something that can be solved by a shift in school-day timing―we’re in emergency territory. We will continue to speak out and take the necessary action until our schools get the resources they need to be safe for kids and teachers alike.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.