FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
AS COVID-19 RATES RISE, EDUCATORS ARE IN DIALOGUE WITH BOSTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO ESTABLISH SAFE SCHEDULING AND SUSTAINABLE SUPPORTS FOR HIGH NEEDS STUDENTS OPTING FOR IN-PERSON LEARNING
BOSTON, MA – When the COVID-19 positivity rate exceeded 4% in the City of Boston today, in-person instruction became optional for all Boston Public School educators due to safety provisions put in place through a prior framework adopted by Boston Public Schools and the Boston Teachers Union.
To prioritize support for high needs students, many BTU educators will continue to report in-person while the union dialogues with the Boston Public Schools to establish a safe, rational approach to scheduling in light of the new hazards presented by the rising COVID-19 rates.
Boston Teachers Union President Tang released the following statement this morning:
“In light of the positivity rate exceeding 4%, consistent with and in part resulting from troubling statewide and national trends in COVID-19 spread, we support the postponement of broadening in-person learning within the Boston Public Schools that the Mayor announced today.
Meanwhile, highest need students and families are our top priority right now – and we are in active dialogue with the Boston Public Schools to ensure we have the appropriate staffing in place to support those students and families, without violating the safety guidelines and agreement that the district and city themselves previously proposed and which was jointly agreed upon.
While the safety agreements agreed to by the City of Boston, BPHC, and the BTU make in-person work optional effective tomorrow and until the rates go below 4%, we do expect many educators will be opting to work in-person – despite the increasing risks – in order to support our highest need students while we work with stakeholders to establish a framework for safe, rational scheduling.
We are disappointed that recommendations we had previously put forward to establish a contingency plan for this scenario had not previously been adopted by BPS, despite educators putting forward many solutions to ensure we had scheduling plans in place in the event positivity rates exceed 4% as they now have.
Absent making immediate adjustments to reduce the number of non-essential staff entering school buildings, we are deeply concerned at this hour that the status quo and current approach may needlessly put thousands of staff and students in harm’s way, as we have seen multiple confirmed positive cases in the last four days.
Air quality tests must be released and independent facility inspections should be conducted right away before buildings are declared safe. Providing this critical air quality data is a matter of safety for the educators, parents, and students entering the buildings, and we are advocating for that data to be available as soon as possible and for that data to inform key decisions moving forward.
We are advocating to BPS that we work together to ensure staffing is designed and aligned in ways that minimizes the safety risk to students, educators, and the community, by taking an intentional approach to prioritizing essential staff going into buildings and minimizing non-essential staff.
That plan needs to be formalized quickly to bring certainty, sustainability, and safety to our schools, to parents, to educators, to students, and to the community.”
– Jessica Tang, President, BTU
The Boston Teachers Union proudly represents more than 10,000 teachers and other professionals including school nurses, psychologists, guidance counselors, paraprofessionals, and substitute teachers.
Together, we advocate for the interests of students, parents and education professionals throughout the Boston Public Schools. We support investment in public education to ensure a stronger future for our students and our city. As a union of educators, we are part of a movement that seeks to improve the quality of life for all working people. We are united against all forms of prejudice and bigotry that would seek to devalue the lives or liberties of our students, families or colleagues.