Coronavirus

Survey: Boston teachers want all-remote instruction this fall

And most say they’re at high-risk for getting COVID-19, or live with someone who is.

Boston Teachers Union nurses and staff are asking for a safe and equitable re-opening of the schools during the continuing coronavirus pandemic. Pat Greenhouse / The Boston Globe

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The majority of Boston teachers say they don’t feel safe returning to school in person this fall, and want instruction to be fully remote, according to a survey from the Boston Teachers Union.

And most say they’re at high-risk for getting COVID-19, or live with someone who meets that criteria.

While the survey is still open to members, a message sent out by union President Jessica Tang shows some of the results already gathered. 

The release of some of the survey results comes as Mayor Marty Walsh and Superintendent of Schools Brenda Cassellius said last week that students are planned to begin the school year either using a hybrid model – a mix of in-person and remote learning – or all-remote instruction.

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“We know that we will not start school this year with all in-person learning. That’s a given,” Walsh said during a news conference, according to The Boston Globe. “Right now, we’re focused on all-remote learning and a hybrid model for the start of the school year.”

Of the 1,916 survey responses, more than 87 percent of union members said they don’t feel safe doing in-person instruction, the results show. Asked what model city schools should use this fall, more than 74 percent voted for completely remote instruction, while over 22 percent said the district should use a hybrid model. Less than 4 percent voted for a complete physical return to school.

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“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,” Tang wrote in her message. “These numbers are staggering but not surprising. We are actively working on negotiating options to be available for high-risk staff.”

Just days before Walsh and Cassellius spoke about the tentative plans for the fall, school nurses staged a sit-in protest at City Hall to ask city officials to “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,” according to a news release.

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Protesters are concerned the plan to reopen schools doesn’t meet safety standards, provide enough staffing and supplies, or provide enough information to staff and families of students.

“Overall, the district must be transparent in all aspects of assessing and planning for safety in the schools,” Jonathan Haines, a union member and nurse at McKinley Middle School, said in the release. “How can families decide whether or not to send their children to school, if they don’t even know how it’s being cleaned?”

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