We are writing today to share the latest updates and information on the scheduled reopening by BPS for HIPP students tomorrow. Please read this bulletin carefully, as there is a lot of information that is timely for a safe reopening tomorrow.
On Friday, we participated in 5 building walkthroughs at geographically diverse schools with varying facilities. The good news is that compared to the walk-throughs in September and October, the schools were in much better shape in regards to operational windows, signage, and facilities. All of the rooms being used for HIPP students all had the necessary sanitation stations, air purifiers and protocols in place. There were no egregious violations, although we are still waiting for confirmation from the district of when the CO2 air loggers will be installed.
In regards to the important topic of air quality: If you have not already seen it, there is now a video explaining proper usage of air purifiers, as well as a PDF version. If you are in a school and room with MERV 13 filters, you do not need to have windows open. The purifiers cover 850 square feet. Facilities will be in charge of their maintenance and filters will be replaced every 6 months or as needed.
For schools without MERV 13 filters, it is still recommended that windows are open 1-2 inches with the door open. During lunch, we advise opening windows further and remember to follow protocols for sanitizing/washing hands before eating and disinfecting surfaces after meals. Hand sanitizer or sinks should be near water bubblers and should be used after touching shared surfaces.
Upon our request, BPS has also expedited the independent inspections of air ventilation schedule to be completed by the week of March 1, instead of April 1, and we will be observing those visits beginning this week and have been in touch with our own independent air inspectors to accompany us this week as well.
There are temperature loggers throughout the school that facilities staff are monitoring. However, if your room is too cold or too hot, please contact the Energy Office at 617-635-8740 immediately to adjust radiators or fix issues with ventilation. Exhausts fan should be on in all bathrooms 24/7.
Each school should have identified a coordinator for PPE, who will be submitting requests and logging needs twice a week. There should also be a Covid testing coordinator in your school. Please see the latest Covid testing schedule we received Friday night. We have also requested signage and additional air purifiers for any sites being used for testing. The district will be adding additional surveillance testing via DESE availability soon as well.
Building Representatives are being asked to fill out this questionnaire based on the new checklist (from the 11/15 and 1/10 MOA’s) – ideally by 5:00 tomorrow – so that we can keep track of contract enforcement and implementation. Please remember that the fall walk-through checklist is still relevant and all conditions on this list should be in place as well.
For schools that were NOT given the opportunity to create opt-in schedules first, we have shared that list of schools with BPS from our meeting on Thursday night, but need more information and details. Please share those details – if schedules were made without a surveying of educators opting in first, if Building Reps were not involved in the creating of schedules, etc. – to Matt at email@example.com.
In regards to vaccinations, while we continue to advocate to the state that educators be prioritized, we are in continued discussions with BPHC and BPS about getting the Boston schedule and process out as soon as possible and will be meeting this week to, hopefully, finalize the timeline and process. They are exploring the BTU as a possible vaccination site and we will be hosting them for walkthrough of our facilities early this week.
Yesterday, the district did finally respond to our questions that shared last week. To be clear, we disagree with some of the responses (we did find a medical waiting room missing an air purifier on our walk-throughs Friday, for example) and question characterization of some of our questions – no one is “volunteering,” as another example, but there absolutely is an obligation to work with opt-in staff first – but are sharing the responses in full transparency.
If at this point, you have been directed in and did not opt in, and your school has not gone before the Reopening Task Force, then please let your Field Rep know immediately. If you do not feel that you can go in, you may need to take a leave under either FFCRA (which has been extended in the city until March 31) or FMLA leave. Again, please contact your Field Representative immediately.
Lastly, we know that many educators are understandably anxious and concerned about returning to in-person schooling, particularly as vaccines accessibility should be right around the corner. While it has never been our decision to choose when schools reopen, we have worked very hard to secure some of the strongest protections and conditions in the country, conditions that cities like Chicago – which is slated to open for all elementary and middle school students tomorrow – do not yet have in writing. We continue to stand in solidarity with the CTU and all other educators still fighting for basic protections – not just in verbal promises, but in writing.
It is through our collective actions and power that we have been able to win what we have won and we will continue to advocate and call for action, should any of our educators, students or families be put in an unnecessarily dangerous situation without the agreed upon safety conditions. Please know that we do not take anyone’s concerns lightly and are doing everything in our power to ensure that BPS and the city are mitigating all risks to educators, students and families.
Thank you all again for your continued commitment to our students, schools, community and each other. We know that our families appreciate your advocacy, work and all the ways everyone has continued to go above and beyond for our students during these trying times and done despite harsh criticism and inaccurate portrayals of the work we do and what we are advocating for. Your vigilance, your work, our collective advocacy and our collective voice continue to mitigate risks and literally save lives.
No one should be forced into a situation that is unsafe, and we WILL take action if we find any egregious, unsafe conditions. As always, do not hesitate to reach out to any BTU staff with your questions and concerns. You can also continue to share them here.
#InThisTogether as always,
President Tang, BTU officers and staff