If you missed it, we have been sharing special bulletins that detail the latest developments from the district and the state. If you need to revisit them, the Special Bulletins are available on the BTU website. Here are some of the highlights and newest updates:
- All Boston Public Schools are slated to be closed tomorrow, Tuesday, March 17. There are no expectations for school-based staff to do any remote work on March 17.
- Despite Channel 5’s erroneous announcement, BTU members who work in schools are expected to stay home Wednesday through Friday of this week. We thank Mayor Walsh and Supt. Cassellius for their responsiveness and leadership.
- We are aware that current expectations for remote learning have been inequitable and inconsistent across the district with some schools requiring daily graded assignments and others leaving things more flexible. We have been advocating that principals give everyone a few days this week without rigid expectations to re-coup and re-group as we work on common expectations for remote learning, and engage educators in creating guidelines that make sense. We are focused on equity and access across schools, grade levels and student profiles, and requirements that recognize the unique circumstances that educators face including the need to care for children and parents.
- BPS schools are expected to remain closed through April 27, 2020, unless the situation improves dramatically and it is safe to re-open schools earlier.
- Clarification on the five days: Educators will be called in for five workdays before school reopens to help prepare for the transition back before students return–not April vacation. If the closure gets extended to May, educators will be called in for additional five workdays in May, and if the closure gets extended to June, then educators will be called in for five workdays in June. Please note that these will be five workdays before students return to schools and will not include any currently scheduled vacation days. Also, please remember that while we are still working on compensation for per-diem subs, but all others will be receiving regular compensation during this time.
- Food distribution sites will be open to all Boston students throughout this closure. District created work packets will be available there for families to pick up as well.
- BPS is asking for volunteers to help at the food distribution sites today and this week. If you are available, you can arrive as early as 7:30am to about 12:30pm. When you arrive, please see the volunteer captain so they can explain what is needed. For questions, please contact Sam Depina. We will be in touch with the larger BTU Volunteer Corps soon.
- The City is working to get laptops and internet access to all families in need.
- Check out a helpful article about COVID-19, social distancing, and precautions to take from one of our school nurses, Susan Arase.
The office line will still be open, too.
We appreciate the more than 600 members who have already signed up to be a part of the BTU Volunteer Corps that will be providing assistance to our communities in the days and weeks ahead. We will have more details on the program soon, along with opportunities to support our city and our neighborhoods during school closures.
We will continue to provide you with details and updates as they become available. Please check your email regularly for Special Bulletins every few days.
In the meantime, AFT, our national union, has a call for action: Tell The Senate to Pass The FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT (H.R. 6201) Now! Learn about this important bill and write to your senator here.
Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education issued a memorandum of agreement and reporton Friday on the findings from the audit of BPS. The report validates well-known concerns that BTU long ago identified for the state as reasons for urgent and additional state investments – not takeovers – in public education, particularly with regard to the special education and English learner needs of Boston students.
While the memorandum does not constitute a state takeover,it appears to leave the door open in ways that could be dangerous for students and our communities, given the failed track record of top-down district takeovers across the country. We support the new district strategic plan that was already forged with community input by the newly appointed superintendent, Dr. Brenda Cassellius, which addresses the challenges outlined in this report.
Boston parents, educators, and students continue to say NO to state receivership, NO to state “disempowerment” zones, and NO to top-down state interventions that ignore local voices. Please take a moment to sign the petition.