For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, July 29, 2020
School Nurses Reject Boston Public School’s “Hopscotch” Reopening Plan
Nurses demand safe and equitable school reopening, warning current COVID-19 safeguards are insufficient for protecting BPS students, staff
BOSTON — Today, over 100 Boston Teachers Union (BTU) members, including nurses and educators, joined a sit-in protest at City Hall Plaza to demand Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Dr. Brenda Cassellius, and city leaders safely and equitably reopen schools for in-person instruction with verifiable assurance that proper COVID-19 safeguards and facilities upgrades are in place. The nurses are also demanding “a seat at the table” to give meaningful feedback and input into reopening plans and decisions.
“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,” said BTU President Jessica Tang. “The District should work with educators, especially our school nurses, to plan and prepare for a reopening that is safe, equitable and healthy for everyone.”
The draft reopening plans provided by BPS do not meet the standards necessary to ensure the safety of Boston school facilities, adequate staffing and supplies, and comprehensive guidance for families and school personnel regarding COVID-19. Reopening plans must be guided by health and safety considerations and led by health care experts.
“Overall, the district must be transparent in all aspects of assessing and planning for safety in the schools,” said Jonathan Haines, BTU member and nurse at McKinley Middle School. “How can families decide whether or not to send their children to school, if they don’t even know how it’s being cleaned?”
More than 100 Boston Teachers Union nurses are responsible for the health and safety of all 55,000+ BPS students. These health care professionals were left out of the reopening plan’s creation process, and are fighting for safer physical conditions in our schools.
“We want to see our students, but we want to do it with proper safety procedures in place,” said Marta Bausemer, BTU member and nurse at Boston Green Academy. “That means rapid testing, a solid plan for when infections inevitably happen, and training for all educators to slow the spread, among others.”
The BTU Nurses have identified five demands in order for students to return to school safely:
- Policies consistent with Safe Nursing Practice must be reviewed and approved by our nurses.
- Rapid testing must be in place for quick identification of COVID-19 in our school communities.
- Sufficient PPE supplies, including fitted N95 masks for nurses and appropriate protective gear for all educators who need them must be obtained and supplied in adequate quantities by the district.
- There should be adequate ventilation in all areas; cleaning and sanitizing policies must be strictly enforced; there must be isolation rooms and safe waiting areas near health offices, working sinks in all health offices, soap and paper towels in all bathrooms, working windows, and safe drinking water. Air quality and ventilation assessments must be done and the results must be made public.
- Increase the number of substitute nurses and teachers, hire more psychologists, social workers, custodians, and other staff in order to support all students and to implement all safety protocols.
About the Boston Teachers Union
The Boston Teachers Union proudly represents more than 10,000 teachers and other professionals including school nurses, psychologists, guidance counselors, paraprofessionals, and substitute teachers. Together, we advocate for the interests of students, parents and education professionals throughout Boston. We support investment in public education to ensure a stronger future for our students and our city. As a union of educators, we are part of a movement that seeks to improve the quality of life for all working people. We are united against all forms of prejudice and bigotry that would seek to devalue the lives or liberties of our students, families or colleagues.