Mass. teachers’ unions unveil phased-in school reopening proposals

The unions will be negotiating their terms with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

–FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

BOSTON (AP) — Public school teachers across Massachusetts are asking for a phased-in approach to the reopening of schools this fall, similar to the state’s multi-phased economic restart.

The plan is outlined in a Public School Reopening Proposal released Monday by the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the American Federation of Teachers of Massachusetts, and the Boston Teachers Union.

“The science continues to change as the disease continues to change. So what we really need to do is look at a phased-in approach,” Massachusetts Teachers Association President Merrie Najimy said last week on WCVB’s “On The Record.” “If the economy is opening on a phased-in approach, then we can open public schools on a phased-in approach.”

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The first phase is a period of preparation for teachers and support professionals that could include setting up classrooms and learning about new health and safety protocols.

The second phase would allow teachers to set up one-on-one meetings with students and their families, either in-person or remotely, to prepare them for the new health and safety protocols and for evaluating each student’s needs.

The third phase is a six-week resumption of lessons, either in-person, remotely or a hybrid model to establish the school climate and culture and set expectations and rules.

The fourth stage would be a period of assessment.

The unions are also calling for health and safety guidelines that include surveying each district for protective equipment needs, and checking and updating HVAC systems.

The unions will be negotiating their terms with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

In releasing their initial back-to-school guidelines for the fall last month, state education officials said while the goal would be to have students physically in the school building, schools will need to plan a “hybrid” model – having groups of students switch off between in-person and remote learning, either on certain days of the week or alternating every other week, as well as a plan for all-remote instruction.


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