Published On: October 14, 2020
We hope you all were able to enjoy the long weekend and found time to reflect on and appreciate the many contributions and rich history of our indigenous community members. 

We have sent many special bulletins since our regular bulletin last week, so we encourage you to catch up on these bulletins if you haven’t already. You can access bulletin archives on the BTU website. We also sent a special bulletin to Building Reps yesterday responding to some questions we got over the weekend.

Here are some of the latest updates:

On Thursday, we filed for injunctive relief regarding the BPS and city’s decision not to comply with the MOA language which requires BPS to transition to full remote learning as a result of the 4.1% COVID-19 positivity rate. Yesterday, our court date was moved from 2 p.m. to this morning at 10 a.m. We will share information on any decisions from the court later today at our membership meeting, so please be sure to register and join ASAP.

If we prevail at the hearing today, it will be because the judge believes we have met all burdens of proving that there is immediate, irreparable harm and that the three other “burdens of proof” for injunctive relief are met. If we lose, it does not mean we don’t have a case. It just means that the judge will not order BPS to call all remote for Thursday and we will have to follow the usual grievance process, not an expedited, temporary decision. We will continue to pursue the regular grievance procedure if we do not prevail this morning.   

To be clear, we have been advocating for months to have a better, more thoughtful plan to serve our highest needs/HIPP students in person and continue to be open to working with the district on a better plan. As early as Sept. 30, when we knew we were getting to close to the 4% rate, we asked that we work on a better moving forward and provided solutions that the district and city chose to ignore before violating our MOA. This situation was entirely avoidable had the district actually met with us and shared proposals.

Again, our monthly membership meeting is TODAY, Wednesday, October 14 at 4:30 p.m. You must register in advance in order to get a Zoom link. Please remember that due to logistical restrictions, registrations cannot be accepted past 4 p.m. the day of the meeting. Each link provided is unique and cannot be shared. Minutes for E-Board and membership meetings are posted on our website behind the BTU Member portalPlease also note that the November membership meeting will be Wednesday, November 18, not Nov. 11, due to Veterans Day. 

We continue to comply with the language in the MOA – and will support any educators that may face undue repercussions as a result of exercising their right to work safely and remotely now that they citywide rate is above 4%, and is much higher in many Boston neighborhoods.  Please continue to share safety concerns with us and publicly by using the hashtag #SafetyFirstBPS and by calling 311. The appropriate BTU staff member will follow up and respond, but the larger public needs to know the concerns, too. We have learned of several confirmed positive cases: at least one each at the Lee School, Boston Green Academy, Lila Frederick, and Madison Park.  Other cases are pending test results. BPS needs to publicly share this data.

We have received many messages from teachers asking how to respond to parent questions on the current situation. We have been in contact with many parents as well, and share the following message:

“We have long advocated for and provided solutions for plans that will provide high-quality instruction that is as safe as possible. Unfortunately, the district is yet to implement an intentional plan that will help to ensure appropriate staffing ratios. Like many of you, we honor and appreciate the value of in-person instruction for high needs students, which is why we are continuing to encourage that the district creates a better plan that minimizes potential COVID-19 exposure, by reducing the number of adults entering the school building, whose in-person presence is not necessary for in-person instruction. We know that safe ratios save lives, and we’re doing everything we can to reduce the viral footprint to ensure the safety of our students.”
Please continue to share your stories, talk to your neigbhors, raise your voices and create space with your colleagues to prepare to mobilize together. Our power is through our collective action.  

Attending to our personal well-being is as important now as it has ever been. We are excited that our partnership with Educators Thriving, which supports social-emotional health with concrete strategies to prevent burn-out, has been awarded a grant from the AFT Innovation Fund. This means we can now serve even more members! This course is open to all and free for BTU members with grad credit available for a small fee. Apply here by October 19. 

Join us on Saturday, October 24 for “Now More Than Ever”, our virtual fall conference for building reps & members. Workshops will take place on racial justice, health and safety at our school sites, Contract Action Teams, and more. Register here!

The BTU will also be joining the Greater Boston Labor Council Get Out the Vote Event on Sunday, October 25. In the meantime, please see below for all of the ways to get involved in this November’s election! 

Thank you so much for all your efforts over the past few weeks to help us get Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House, and to flip the Senate seat in Maine by electing Sara Gideon! Over the past two weeks, we have made around 2,000 calls through BTU phone banks alone, plus many more to other swing states on other AFT phone banks. Our number of volunteers continues to grow, so here are some updates on ways you can support our efforts for the next 20 days:

If you have any questions on how to get involved, please reach out to Roberto Jimenez, BTU Political Organizer via email or at 617-466-9149 or Johnny McInnis, BTU Political Director via email.

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