First, the BTU nurses staged a sit-in protest at City Hall Plaza to demand Mayor Walsh, Supt. Cassellius and other city leaders safely and equitably reopen schools for in-person instruction with the verifiable assurance that proper COVID-19 safeguards and facilities upgrades are in place. The nurses are demanding a seat at the table to give meaningful feedback and input into reopening plans and decisions. We are saying no to the hopscotch plan and yes to safety and health first!
No students or staff should be asked to risk their lives or their loved ones by going back in person 一 not even under a hybrid plan 一 until all possible health and safety precautions are addressed and verified. The District needs to work with educators, especially our school nurses, to plan and prepare for a reopening that is safe, equitable, and healthy for everyone.
We are also gearing up for Monday’s National Day of Resistance, joining the Demand Safe Schools national collective in its call for a safe, scientific, racially just and fully funded approach to reopening schools. Please register for our local action, which will be from 5 to 7 p.m., and learn more about the collective on its website. Two days later, BTU members will be testifying at the School Committee on August 5th to share both our concerns and solutions. If you are interested in joining us, please contact Ilene Carver at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, please save the date for the next BTU Summer “Town Hall” for BTU members on Wednesday, August 12 at 3:00 p.m. Please 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, share reports on current campaigns, and have an opportunity for a Q&A.
The national AFT convention concluded yesterday — we will have more highlights in next week’s bulletin, but are proud to share that the two of the three resolutions submitted by the BTU were passed — one on supporting young workers and another on a Green New Deal. Our third resolution on single-payer health care was combined with others into a more comprehensive resolution on health care access.
We have received nearly 2,000 responses to our reopening survey. If you haven’t had a chance, take the survey to let us know your thoughts and ideas. You can take the survey by logging into the member portal. You need to be a working, active member to complete the survey. The responses to this survey will continue to inform our advocacy and our next steps as a union.
Below are screenshots of the summary of the answers that we have received so far. Overwhelmingly, our members are not comfortable returning to school in-person in the fall for a myriad of reasons, including that 64.2% of members are high-risk for COVID-19, or lives with someone who is high-risk. These numbers are staggering but not surprising. We are actively working on negotiating options to be available for high-risk staff.
Following are a few other important updates and reminders:
- 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.
- Please join AFT Massachusetts for a conversation to safely reopen our schools on Thursday, August 6, at 7 p.m. MassCOSH partners will be joining the event. Zoom link invite to follow.
- 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.
- The AFT’s Summer benefit allows members to enroll for free in Summer’s web-based student loan management platform. Please complete this brief contact form (the link has been corrected) to receive an invitation to Summer.
- Continue to submit your COVID-related questions or concerns on our Google Form. We will continue to check responses over the summer as we continue negotiating reopening plans.