Published On: March 21, 2020
Dear BTU Family,
We hope everyone was able to take a collective deep breath last night, relax a little and take some time for self care and attention to your family and loved ones this weekend.  
BTU and BPS continued to meet and work together virtually this week and weekend to clarify basic expectations of remote learning and work for our members. We’ve asked many detailed questions and gotten many answers from BPS that we are sharing in advance of a signed written agreement. While we are not yet in complete agreement on every detail even in this document, we are optimistic that we have a clear Memorandum of Understanding very soon. We sent over a proposed formal agreement today, and both BTU and BPS are working through the weekend.

In the meantime, while we maintain that it is the employer’s duty to clarify and communicate expectations, we know that everyone is still seeking guidance concerning how our new work days should be structured. To be clear, per DESE guidance, we are not currently replicating the school day. Both BTU and BPS are encouraging administrators and educators to be flexible, as this is a rapidly evolving and fluid situation, and both families and educators need time to get up to speed with both access to technology and the skills to use them.

Over the next few weeks, we expect that there will be some required synchronous time for educators and there will also be required asynchronous tasks. Our goal is to have clarity around the expectations for each.

We have analyzed the instructional expectations of over 40 schools. The most common expectations seem to be:
  • Every family can expect contact from the school every week.
  • Schools are keeping a log of all successful and attempted family and student contacts in a manner agreed upon by their school.
  • If teachers are unable to make contact with students or families, they are letting their school leaders know.
  • In line with typical class size limits, teachers are being assigned a set group of students with whom they correspond at least weekly.
  • Teachers are making themselves available to students and/or families to answer questions.
  • Teachers are being asked to set up a Google Classroom or other online mechanism agreed upon by their school.
  • Many teachers are sharing those classrooms with administrators, paras, colleagues, and other school personnel who would benefit.
  • Secondary teachers who teach multiple sections of the same class are talking with their supervisor about combining those classes into one Google Classroom.
  • Teachers are creating and sharing weekly activities to keep students engaged in learning.
  • Teachers are sharing with families a suggested schedule for students to follow at home.
  • Administrators are giving advance notice for synchronous staff meetings (like CPT, department meetings, ILT, etc.) with recorded meetings and notes for those who cannot attend. A consistent weekly schedule is strongly encouraged. Staff should notify their supervisors if they are unable to attend a synchronous meeting.
  • While Zoom and other virtual meeting platforms are being used, educators can use the audio only options and are not required to be on video in their homes or to upload videos from home.
  • Teachers are completing and uploading grading of student work through March 16th, including all report card and progress report notes.
*NB: “Teachers” includes long-term subs, specialists, content area and grade level teachers, and the like.
While we are waiting for additional district communications and the completion of negotiations, we wanted to share more of what we at the BTU are advocating for:
  • Caps on the number of hours that educators can be required to be on synchronous meetings (CPT, ILT, department meetings, etc.) during the week and notification of such.
  • The district has said that Annual Review meetings will be offered to families. We are advocating that all our members be afforded opportunities and resources to participate in meetings under appropriate conditions.
  • If and when schools reopen, we recommend that we continue to follow local, state and federal guidance on social distancing.
  • Continued compensation for all BTU members, including per diem substitutes, if the closure is extended beyond April 27. 
  • We are advocating for appropriate resources and guidance for substitutes, paraprofessionals, ABA specialists, nurses, behavioral health specialists, RSPs, and all other job categories in the BTU.
  • We are seeking clarification on the impact of remote learning on evaluations, work leave, and other working conditions.
  • Adequate access to technology for job expectations. If you do not have district-issued technology to perform required duties, please contact your Field Rep and let other colleagues know they can do the same. 
Please continue to submit your questions or concerns on our Google Form.
Reminder to Check Out Tech Support Resources: 
  • Need Help with Zoom? Two BTU Members Can Help. BTU Member Margaret Arlauskas from the Harvard Kent co-facilitated a webinar for the National Board on how to use Zoom for virtual learning with students and colleagues. The full webinar is here, and the resources page is here. Many more resources from the National Board are here.
  • BTU Member Jessica Madden-Fuoco of English High created this 14 minute zoom tutorial which includes lots of tips including some for using Zoom with younger students. 
  • If you need help with using or setting up Google Classrooms, please check out useful resources from the Digital Learning Team, a group that includes many BTU members. They have webinars on common topics, 1:1 and small group office hours, and more available. You can also find archived webinars and other fun curated resources by teachers and schools.
We have an additional update regarding the upcoming Para pools:
  1. The para transfer process will be extended by one week, and will now run from March 30-April 17. 
  2. Layoff and Excess notices will not be mailed by certified mail, or by US Mail.   They will be sent via email.  The recipient will be asked to respond to indicate that they received the notice.  
Please contact Para/Sub/ABA Field Rep Colleen Hart with any questions: or 617-291-1685
Lastly, we continue to be impressed by the commitment of our educators to keep our students feeling loved, safe and care for:  
  • Thank you to the growing list of BTU Volunteer Corps members and everyone who came out, especially on short notice, to help distribute Chromebooks this week. 
  • Thank you also to the volunteers who helped with the Mayor’s lit drop today to inform residents about COVID-19 and provide facts and resources!
  • A BIG shout out all of our teachers who are reaching out and conducting virtual class meetings with their students! For example, today, the Henderson Grade 7 Team conducted a class via Zoom this morning. The class was held to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day, “Rock Your Socks.” We applaud the teachers: Ms. Cabanban, Ms. Gavin, Mr. Dolphin,  Mr. Greer, Ms. Barlow and Ms. Tapipitake and all of our educators for continuing to go above and beyond all expectations during this crisis.
We continue to be #InThisTogether.
Be safe and be well this weekend and remember to take time for your own self care and that of your loved ones, too.

Jessica Tang

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