Mass. parents rally for in-person learning while teachers hold strong on remote plans
Aug 13, 2020
August 12, 2020 at 8:33 p.m.
Massachusetts parents and students calling for in-person learning this fall rallied outside the State House Wednesday, but union members are holding strong on going remote come September. “We are calling on Gov. Baker and DESE to issue a transparent metric-based approach to guide the reasonable reopening of local school systems for in-person learning,” said Antigone Grasso, a member and organizer of Bring Back Kids MA, a group advocating for students to return to the classroom. Grasso and about 25 other members of Bring Back Kids MA gathered outside the State House holding signs that said phrases such as, “Technology is not a teacher” and “Follow the data, open school.”
Sophia Grasso, 11, of Westwood, who was rallying with her dad Richard Grasso said, “It’s hard to learn from the teachers when they’re not there and they can’t help you as well.”
As districts prepare to send in final reopening plans to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on Friday, color-coded coronavirus metrics based on case counts in a given community were released Wednesday and will be used to inform reopening. Districts are expected to follow the color-coding guidelines for reopening unless there are “extenuating circumstances identified in consultation with local boards of health,” the letter to superintendents from DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley said. Massachusetts Teachers Association President Merrie Najimy said the guidelines are “an inexplicable case of hypocrisy.”
“The virus doesn’t stay within those colored lines. The virus spreads wherever people move across those lines and people will move and it will spread,” said Najimy. MTA members will continue to push for a remote school opening, she added. In Boston, city councilors met virtually with Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius and members of her team to have a hearing on reopening and the district’s proposed hybrid “hopscotch” plan. Cassellius provided some updates about Boston school buildings that have been improved and repaired, which she said was a main concern for teachers and parents. “I think our buildings will be ready for reopening,” said Cassellius, during her presentation before the councilors. She said summer cleaning has been done in 120 out of 125 buildings and touching on proper air circulation, 60 out of 165 window repairs were completed. Cassellius said some staffing vacancies for the school year remain, including 60 bus monitors and 35 cafeteria workers. Of 940 teacher vacancies, Cassellius said 85% have been filled. Sign up for email newsletters