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Immunocompromised Madison West teacher allowed to continue teaching virtually

Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 3:08 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 8, 2021 at 9:49 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - An immunocompromised teacher is thanking her students Friday for their support after she was told she would be able to continue teaching her Spanish classes virtually at Madison West High School, after she claims she was told that she would not be able to unless she returned to in-person learning.

Madison Metropolitan School District spokesperson Tim LeMonds told NBC15 Friday that Deana Zorko would be teaching online at Madison West.

A petition created by students, which garnered over 1,100 signatures, stated Zorko told her students on Oct. 1 that it would be her last day, because MMSD would no longer allow her to teach Spanish. She had been teaching the classes virtually, because she is immunocompromised. MMSD spokesperson Tim LeMonds said Wednesday that Zorko was not reassigned, nor terminated, but accepted a position teaching Spanish at the district’s virtual learning program Madison Promise.

Madison Teachers Inc. noted on Facebook Friday that Zorko would return to teaching high school Spanish language and literature classes school virtually starting Monday Oct. 11. In the same post, Zorko stated she was proud of her students for speaking up.

“I feel humbled by their support and the support of members of the community who have advocated for this outcome,” Zorko said. “I love teaching at West, I love my students and can’t wait to see everyone in class on Monday. Let’s get back to la clase de espanol!”

While Zorko was vaccinated against COVID-19, MTI noted Zorko is a double-organ transplant recipient which puts her at high risk for severe illness or death from the virus.

LeMonds said Wednesday that the district has been working with Zorko and her attorney since she sent her request for accommodations. He says the district never received an ADA Reasonable Accommodation form, which would have been the first step in this process.

MTI noted that this agreement is not permanent, as it does not carry over into the second semester. MMSD has said they will “continue the conversation” over the decision, according to the teachers’ group.

Update on Reinstatement of Deana Zorko to her position with Madison Metropolitan School District 𝗧𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗸𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗮𝗱𝘃𝗼𝗰𝗮𝗰𝘆...

Posted by Madison Teachers Incorporated on Friday, October 8, 2021

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