Published On: August 6, 2020

We can’t believe it’s already August! We hope you all weathered the impacts of the tornado yesterday with minimal damage and power outage. As we get closer to the beginning of another school year, we will continue to communicate pertinent information through periodic bulletins this month.

Yesterday, we received the latest draft of BPS’ reopening plan. It has incorporated some of the ideas that we have shared, such as science being the driver behind any reopening decisions, a focus on equity and commitment to racial justice, being open to change as the virus evolves, and important decisions not being made until school leaders, teachers, staff, and families weigh in. However, many of our overarching concerns remain unaddressed.

For one, the plan lacks details on the exact protocol for keeping our students, educators, and staff safe. How will students be transported to schools? How will facilities be updated to maintain CDC cleanliness standards? These are basic questions that must be determined before any in-person teaching resumes. 

If we reopen without a thoughtful, concrete plan, we will contribute to a resurgence of COVID-19 in our communities. Parents, grandparents, and educators – potentially students, too – will be uncessarily be put at risk and could die. This is unacceptable. That is why our Executive Board met yesterday and passed the following resolution.

It is clear to us at this point, that the district is NOT ready to start hybrid in-person education in September. It is critical that we take the limited time, energy and resources we have to vastly improve remote learning – the one model in which we know everyone will likely have to participate to some extent no matter what. In order for any in-person education to resume, safety and health assurances must be verifiable and executed with fidelity. A written plan and verbal assurances is not enough.

The district should start small and go slowly, phasing in hybrid learning when it is safe and prioritizing those most in need of in person schooling. We need to get this right from the start and can’t take chances which will could set us back instead of set us forward. The path to a safe, healthy and equitable reopening is a slow, measured and thoughtful phased-in approach that is FULLY FUNDED.

On Monday, we joined the Demand Safe Schools national collective by hosting a local action for National Day of Resistance. If you missed it, you can watch a recording of the livestream (you can skip the breakout rooms from 1:14:50 to 1:46:13) and click through the presentation. We will also be testifying at School Committee TONIGHT at 5:00 to share our concerns and solutions. Watch your fellow members live and show your support!

Please remember to save the date for the next BTU Summer “Town Hall” for BTU members next Wednesday, August 12 at 3:00 p.m. Be sure to register in advance for the Zoom link. Similar to our membership meetings, we will be sharing the latest updates on reopening plans, sharing reports on current campaigns, and conducting a Q&A. We will also be sharing our own proposals and aspirations for reopening soon and will review our plan at this meeting.

Following are a few other important updates and reminders: 
  • BPS is hosting Zoom meetings to gather feedback about fall reopening plans. You can find information on upcoming meetings on the BPS website along with a rough reopening timeline and a survey to share your thoughts. Please share the information with parents and families, too.

  • We continue to get many questions about options for leave, particularly for high-risk educators. We are in discussions with the BPS about what options already exist through the Families First Coronivirus Response Act (available to employees who have worked for at least 30 days) and also what accommodations can be made through the Equity office or other leaves. We will have more on this soon.

  • Unafraid Educators and the Boston Education Justice Alliance (BEJA) co-founded a Relief Fund for BPS students and families experiencing financial need during this ongoing pandemic — regardless of immigration status. Please donate to and share the Relief Fund with your networks. All BPS students and families are eligible to apply.

  • Reminder: We will be offering virtual tutoring through an extended Homework Helpers program through August 13. Please share our flyer (also in Spanish and Haitian-Creöle) and contact Brenda Chaney with any questions. 

  • For those utilizing Pandemic EBT funds, an additional $199.50 in food benefits were automatically added to each P-EBT card on June 24th. Families can now use these additional funds.
  • Continue to submit your COVID-related questions or concerns on our Google FormWe will continue to check responses over the summer as we continue with negotiating reopening plans.  

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