What the Boston Teachers Union said about the city’s plan to start schools fully remote

“This plan is a key step toward getting the details right at the local level.”

boston public schools closed
–Jessica Rinaldi / The Boston Globe

The Boston Teachers Union responded Friday to Mayor Marty Walsh’s announcement that the city’s schools will begin the new school year with remote learning due to the coronavirus pandemic, with a plan to bring students back for part-time in-person learning in a four-phased process. 

The teachers union had been pressing for a remote start to the school year, saying a phased-in approach for resuming in-person instruction would allow the district to ensure first that the necessary public health protocols and safeguards were in place across school buildings.

In a statement Friday, the union said the district’s plan “represents a significant step forward toward ensuring that public health and safety for everyone are at the center of all plans pertaining to reopening our Boston Public Schools.”

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But there remains more work to do, the teachers union continued, stressing that “time, preparation, and prevention are critical in the fight against this terrible pandemic.”

“Educators and parents have been advocating for many of the details now outlined in this plan and through our advocacy we are pleased to see those ideas and needs reflected in this latest proposal,” the union said. “We thank the superintendent and the Mayor for the time they have invested in discussions and in hearing our solutions, and we will continue to work in good faith to bridge the divide on any details yet to be determined.” 

Under the plan announced by Walsh and Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius, all of the city’s public school students will begin the year remotely when classes resume on Sept. 21. Then, beginning no sooner than Oct. 1, students with higher learning needs will be able to begin hybrid instruction. The rest of the student population would be allowed to start hybrid learning in phases spread from mid-October to mid-November. 

Boston’s four-phase reopening plan for the city’s public schools. —City of Boston

Teachers miss their students and are “eager” to return, the union wrote Friday, but “every last detail” must still be gotten right. In addition, the larger issue of the underfunding of public education at both the state and national levels must be addressed, the teachers said.

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“This plan is a key step toward getting the details right at the local level. But we must also stay united to ensure that at the state and federal level, the Boston Public Schools and other school systems receive the funding they need to combat this crisis,” the union said in their statement. “That is why we have been rallying at the State House. That is why we support new revenue measures to ensure the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share. That is why we look forward to electing a new President of the United States and a new U.S. Senate who will at last prioritize public education funding for the benefit of Boston and public school districts across our nation.”

Read the full statement from the union below: 

Today’s announcement represents a significant step forward toward ensuring that public health and safety for everyone are at the center of all plans pertaining to reopening our Boston Public Schools. While there is more work to be done, and we have not reached full agreement on every last detail, it is important to note that we are pleased to see that the time period to prepare for safety is being rightfully extended, particularly in light of the increasingly troubling data we are seeing both across the state and the nation. Time, preparation, and prevention are critical in the fight against this terrible pandemic. And we must leverage all of those factors to protect public health and the public good.

Educators and parents have been advocating for many of the details now outlined in this plan and through our advocacy we are pleased to see those ideas and needs reflected in this latest proposal. We thank the superintendent and the Mayor for the time they have invested in discussions and in hearing our solutions, and we will continue to work in good faith to bridge the divide on any details yet to be determined. 

We especially want to thank all of our fellow Boston Public Schools workers from the various unions who have been working hard to prepare for the restart, as well. This includes central office employees, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and so many more. 

Custodians, maintenance workers, and others are working tirelessly to do all they can to prepare our facilities, and we thank everyone for their labor, for their support, and for their efforts.

There are many more details for us to continue discussing and negotiating with the City, and educators will continue to speak up about concerns regarding individual facilities, instruction, safety and with regard to the overall plan.

As a City and as a society, we must continue to keep public health and equity at the center of every decision and of every step we take in the face of this pandemic.

We miss our students. We are eager to return. We are equally eager to continue conversations with the District and City Hall to ensure that together we get every last detail of these plans right.

We’re committed to getting the details right. We also will continue to advocate at the state and federal levels to ensure that this moment is one in which adequate funding is provided to municipal school districts like Boston. For years, we have been pointing out that state and national underfunding of public education has an adverse impact on our public schools, even in so-called normal times.

 This plan is a key step toward getting the details right at the local level. But we must also stay united to ensure that at the state and federal level, the Boston Public Schools and other school systems receive the funding they need to combat this crisis. That is why we have been rallying at the State House. That is why we support new revenue measures to ensure the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share. That is why we look forward to electing a new President of the United States and a new U.S. Senate who will at last prioritize public education funding for the benefit of Boston and public school districts across our nation.


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