Happy First Week of School and Shanah Tovah to all who celebrate Rosh Hashanah. We hope that seeing your students’ faces again, albeit remotely, has brightened your days. All of you have been on our minds as we continue to advocate for safe facilities, adequate instructional supports and alternative work options for those that need them.
Thank you to all of the Health and Safety Team members who participated in our schools’ walk-throughs and completed the facilities check list. BTU officers and negotiating team members also conducted walk-throughs at seven schools last week with BPS and City staff. We are reviewing the data and working with MassCOSH to draft a report on our findings, which will be released on Thursday with our recommendations and next steps. We will also be having an online community forum on Thursday evening to provide information about the results and hear from community members about their concerns and ideas.
Time is running out to participate in the 2020 census! The last day to be counted is September 30, and it is vital that you complete the census this year. This once-in-a-decade opportunity will determine the number of elected representatives Boston will have, how legislative districts will be formed, and the amount of federal funding we will receive for crucial services and programs for the next 10 years. As part of the Union Member Census Day of Action, we are asking BTU members to assign Census homework by Monday, Sept. 28! Please ask your students to help their parents fill out the census by Monday as homework or as extra credit. You can fill out the census online or by phone. If you are interested to census phone bank with the city, you can volunteer here.
You may have received communications from the Boston Public Health Commission on the randomized surveillance COVID-19 testing for BTU members working from school buildings. You can read the entire overview of the protocol here. A first round of testing will occur today, with a smaller sample number of 100 being randomly chosen in order to monitor the processes, flow and check for areas in need of improvement. The letter sent to those selected for testing this week will include information about how to register, as well as the timing and location of testing, which will include a drive-through option. After this initial week, testing will be offered to a randomly sampled 5% of BTU members reporting and working from school buildings, and we encourage all who are selected to take advantage of this testing opportunity.
This week is our annual Back to School Fair! Thank you to our BTU Community Liaison Brenda Chaney and all of our incredible volunteers for helping to make sure we can still get 40,000 free books to students across the city. The books were delievered yesterday! Special thank you, also, to Erin McGrath and the Boston Partners in Education staff and board who helped to donate 500 backpacks filled with educational materials to our students as well. All of the over 1,400 registration slots have already been filled, but if we have more books left over, we will keep everyone posted on opportunities to come by and pick them up.
Lastly, we are extremely proud to share that Christopher Hall of the Joseph Lee School has been selected as the 2021 Massachusetts Art Education Association’s Special Needs Art Teacher of the Year! Congratulations to Chris and all of the other awardees.
We wish everyone a wonderful first week of school!
- We continue to receive questions about options for leave, particularly for high-risk educators. We recommend seeking accommodations from the Office of Equity first. Please see the latest special bulletin for updated details, and click here for emergency paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). If you need support or are applying for the family or childcare leave under for FFCRA, please email OHC leaves, but, again, we suggest contacting Equity first.
- To make the MTEL more accessible during COVID-19 and beyond, DESE has worked with Evaluation Systems to offer select MTELs to be taken online rather than in person. Individuals with English as a second language may request an extension of testing time on their MTELs, up to one-and-a-half times the standard test session length.
- BPS has extended the deadline to complete the substitute professional development for per-diem subs until September 23.
- 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.
- Continue to submit your COVID-related questions or concerns on our Google Form.