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UNITE HERE to resume protests until noontime aides rehired

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

by Sonia Giebel

Schools are still slated to open without the hallway patrol of noontime aides, and that has community members worried.

Local members of UNITE HERE, the union that represents the aides, will be holding a rally and press conference at 4:30 p.m. today at District headquarters, 440 N. Broad St., to unveil an August lineup of demonstrations. They will be joined by parents, students, and clergy.

Noontime aides are student safety workers who monitor hallways, lunchrooms, and schoolyards to defuse potentially violent conflicts between students. All 1,202 student safety staffers were laid off in the wake of the passing of the “doomsday" budget in late May, leaving Philadelphia’s public schools to open this fall without a constant form of student supervision. UNITE HERE reports that 2,672 violent incidents occurred in District schools last year.

UNITE HERE staged a 15-day hunger strike in June, garnering national attention and drawing the support of local and state politicians. The District has since restored one secretary in each school, as well as fall sports coaches and itinerant music teachers. With just over a month left before schools reopen, the District has remained mum on their plans for the noontime aides.

Update: The Fast for Safe Schools will return Aug. 14 if the District fails to recall noontime aides, a coalition of School District parents, clergy, students, and workers announced today.

Marcia Teagle, who fasted in June, said in a statement, “We were optimistic at first, but now as the school year nears, we are more worried than ever about student safety this fall.”

Sonia Giebel is an intern at the Notebook.