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Boston Public Schools and Boston Teachers Union Collaborate to Further Strengthen Reopening Plans for Students, Families and Staff

BOSTON - Boston Public Schools (BPS) and the Boston Teachers Union (BTU) today announced a series of new, collaborative measures that school officials and staff alike are hailing as important steps forward in their joint efforts to ensure the safest return to school possible for the state’s largest public school system. Equity, public health, and safety were among the key guiding principles emphasized by BPS and the BTU as the groups worked around the clock in recent weeks to forge a framework for the reopening of schools, and details about what that reopening will look like for students, staff, and families and how the district and BTU will continue to work collaboratively on innovative solutions together as this crisis continues. 

The discussions were centered around the important and critical role that in-person instruction plays in a child’s development academically, as well as socially and emotionally. Through the framework, BPS and BTU will expand training and professional development opportunities in hybrid and remote models of learning while working together to bolster family communication and to continually pursue increased levels of student engagement. 

BPS officials and BTU members alike have been eager to welcome students back into school buildings for in-person learning, and to continue advancing the experience of those learning remotely. Both groups praised the framework as offering key supports that will be essential towards both goals, with a special focus on achieving an increased level of safety for in-person learning.

“We are thankful to all of the BTU members and to our parent and student allies who spoke out and who were heard, raising important issues that have been reflected in both the discussions that led to this framework and in the framework itself. We appreciate the entire BPS team for their time and commitment to the process and for listening to and acting upon these key issues. We want to thank Mayor Marty Walsh for his involvement in this process and for approaching it in a way that truly puts public health first, for the benefit of students, parents, staff, and the entire community,” said BTU President Jessica Tang. “The Mayor was able to really bring everyone together to make sure we had a plan that put the public good at the center of the discussions. The details matter, and together with the Mayor and with BPS, we have made tremendous progress toward establishing conditions that will provide critical supports as we all seek to ensure the best educational experience possible under what are unprecedented conditions.” 

“This agreement is the result of months of work between our teams and ensures that teachers have the support they need to successfully welcome students back into school buildings for in-person learning and to accelerate student achievement via remote learning. I am grateful to the Mayor for his leadership and to President Tang for her partnership and to all who were involved in the process that brought this creative and innovative agreement to reality,” said BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius. “We are all excited to start the new school year on September 21 and to safely bring our teachers and students back together for the richness of classroom learning while keeping focus on improved opportunities for engagement and learning remotely.”

“The Boston School Committee thanks the district and the BTU for reaching an agreement that will accelerate student learning through the safe reopening of school buildings for in-person learning and increased expectations and improved experience in remote learning,” said Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael Loconto. “The School Committee looks forward to reviewing the details of the MOU and taking action at the upcoming meeting as we prepare to launch the new school year in a few short weeks. We look forward to hearing more from the district about how it will provide additional time and support for students, teachers, and our families to achieve our vision of an excellent education for all students.”

Some of the topics and supports addressed within the framework include, but are not limited to:

  • Random COVID testing will be administered to 5% of the BTU membership weekly, first by high positivity rate neighborhoods, then by staff populations working with high risk student populations, then citywide.
  • A checklist will be established to verify key health and safety measures before schools are cleared to open for in-person learning, including results from independent air quality tests.
  • Educators will receive additional training on best practices for remote learning.
  • Educators will have the option to work in the school, even if all of the students they are assigned to teach are learning from home, and also will be able to work remotely if all of the students they are assigned are learning from home. 
  • While buildings are undergoing additional cleaning on Wednesday, educators will be able to work either in the buildings or remotely.
  • Appropriate PPE will be provided by the district to all educators.
  • Vocational shop instructors will receive appropriate time in their schedules for cleaning tools and equipment in between hands-on projects.
  • With a waiver, BTU members will be able to bring their school-aged child/children who are in grades K-12 to school with them for any fully remote learning times, in the event the staff member cannot find childcare. If the District moves to a fully remote learning model, BTU bargaining unit members may bring their K-12 children to school Monday through Friday if childcare coverage is needed.
  • Professional development will be recorded and available for per diem substitutes and substitutes will now get the same breaks as teachers.
  • Additional required professional development days for substitutes will count toward health care accrual.

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About 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 the Boston Public Schools. 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.