Welcome to all of our kindergarten and early education students who started school yesterday! We hope the first few days have gone well for all. Today is Preliminary Election Day in Boston for our elected City Councilors. We have endorsed several candidates (including BTU member Joel Richards in District 4!) who can all be found on our BTU Votes webpage. The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can find your polling place here.
As we announced last week, we reached a tentative agreement (TA) on health and safety plans prior to the first day of school on Thursday. You can read our special bulletin on the agreement, our joint press release with BPS, as well as the full agreement. As agreed to in the TA, we are continuing to meet with BPS to discuss and negotiate the impacts and plans for continuity of learning and academic supports for students.
We have had some frequently asked questions over the last few days. We are waiting to hear back from the district on many of them, but here is what we can share for now:
– Pool surveillance testing is set to begin on Thursday. For those who wish to participate, the CIC will have a schedule of where and when the testing is happening in your school. Adults do not need to sign a consent form, and can show up at a time they are available to get tested or get tested with their class.
– For weekly PCR testing for those who not yet vaccinated or unable to be vaccinated, the city currently has three sites dedicated to city employees. This is utterly inadequate, and the BTU has expressed that to BPS and we are advocating for more testing locations for City of Boston employees. We have been told that the city is planning to add more, but in the meantime, please see btu.org/vaccines for links to both vaccination sites and testing sites.
– Despite improvements from previous years, we are aware of the continuing bus concerns. The general transportation hot line for all students is 617-635-9520. Parents/guardians should call the Special Ed Office for transportation assistance if transportation is part of the student’s IEP: 617-635-8599. Transportation complaints, requests, inquiries and support portal can be found at: https://bostonpublicschoolshelp.freshdesk.com/support/home
– Test and stay does not begin until Thursday. In the meantime, any close contacts of Covid positive cases will be asked to quarantine.
We will share more responses when we get them from either the City of Boston or BPS. Please do reach out to your Building Reps, Field Reps and BTU staff with additional questions. We will do our best to answer them as quickly as possible.
We have been working diligently with the folks at Horace Mann School to identify the best, safest next steps in regards to the location of the school building. On Friday, Supt. Cassellius notified the school community that HMS will be staying in their current location for an additional year, with short-term plans to move to the former Edwards building in Charlestown in September 2023. Long-term plans are still being discussed. We encourage all members of the HMS community to register and attend a virtual meeting to discuss these decisions next Tuesday, September 21, at 6:30 p.m.
Reminder: The city mandate for uploading vaccination status or submitting weekly testing has begun and must be completed no later than Sept. 20. Wearing masks in doors is required for all adults working in schools. In addition to wearing masks indoors (fully covering your nose and mouth), we urge all who are eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible and socially distance when possible. Vaccinations are your best protection for in-person learning. Please be sure to visit btu.org/vaccines for the latest updates on COVID-19 vaccines, including upcoming vaccination sites and other information for both staff and students.
Great news on the legislative front – our Retirement Plus bill has been assigned a number: HD4453, an Act authorizing the city of Boston to establish an alternative superannuation retirement benefit program. We are working on co-sponsorship in the Senate and will share more details and advocacy efforts soon.
Save the date for our Fall Leadership Conference! Join us October 22 – 24 at the Sheraton Harborside Hotel in Portsmouth, NH. Our theme this year is “Be Water: Power, Unity, Flexibility & Strength”. Free and open to all BTU members! Register here.
Finally, we wanted to take a moment and acknowledge the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks this past Saturday. Many of our educators remember teaching in the classroom that day and facing the impossible task of explaining what was happening to our young students, all the while experiencing terror and confusion ourselves. Our community lost several family members, friends, and colleagues on that fateful morning, and we are holding each and every one of the victims in our hearts as we continue to teach the hard lessons of that day and the two decades that have followed. The AFT remembered the AFT union members we lost that day.