Haverhill Educators Call for Schools to Reopen Gradually, Starting with Full Remote Learning

Haverhill High School gymnasium. (WHAV News file photograph.)

The union representing Haverhill teachers and other educators are calling for schools to reopen gradually—beginning with remote learning.

Anthony J. Parolisi, Haverhill Education Association president, released the local platform publicly yesterday, saying, “the more we learn about the coronavirus, the more people’s attitudes and opinions about reopening are changing.” He cited a survey showing nearly 60 percent of 555 staff saying they are somewhat or very uncomfortable returning to in-person work.

After beginning with full remote learning, the union said, schools could move to hybrid and then 100% in-person “based on science and public health benchmarks.”

The Haverhill Education Association also called for no changes in the employment status of educational support professionals, plexiglass to be erected to protect secretaries, no buildings be reopened until they comply with environmental health and safety standards, schools to provide personal protective equipment, maintenance and cleaning protocols be established and followed, more nurses to be hired, suspending all or most standardized tests and other conditions.

Haverhill school Superintendent Margaret Marotta, appearing on WHAV Tuesday morning, acknowledged the union’s role in reopening schools.

“They’ve been part of the planning all along. So, they are definitely on all of our planning teams. There’ll be negotiations officially with the union beginning as soon as we have our plans sort of worked out. We have to talk to all our unions because it will impact their day to day work. So, if we change things significantly in their daily expectations, you would have to have conversations with them. And I think it’s possible that there might be changes for many of the groups,” Marotta said.

In an email, Parolisi also said the union has endorsed the Massachusetts Teachers Association position on reopening which states, in part, “we will refuse to return to unsafe school buildings.”

The statewide association noted, “Educators across Massachusetts miss their students and are eager to resume learning in person—as that is how education is supposed to be. Our greatest collective obligations, however, are to keep students, educators, families and communities out of harm’s way and to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 in our communities and across the state.”

It also said Black, Latinx and Indigenous students, educators and communities face “higher risk factors and worse outcomes, all while depriving them of resources to meet these standards.”

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