Haverhill Teachers, School Reach Tentative Agreement on Work Conditions During Pandemic

Executive Assistant Beverly Cassano, School Committee member Gail M. Sullivan, Superintendent Margaret Marotta and Assistant Superintendent Michael Pfifferling at a Haverhill School Committee meeting. (WHAV News file photograph.)

After 15 rounds of talks, Haverhill educators and the school administration reached a tentative agreement Wednesday on how to proceed with restrictions imposed by the coronavirus.

The talks, called “impact bargaining,” resulted from the changes in requirements and working conditions for teachers and others caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Both sides say they believe the agreement helps ensure students learning at home receive the same quality as those physically sitting in a classroom.

Haverhill Education Association President Anthony J. Parolisi says the pact covers differing expectations of teachers during hybrid as well as full remote instruction. Parolisi explains managing in-person and at-home students simultaneously has been “a real challenge.”

“We believe that parents chose to send their students into hybrid model so that educators who were working with students in person would be able to focus exclusively on the students in front of them,” Parolisi says.

School Committee Vice Chairman Richard J. Rosa, who headed negotiations for the administration, also cites similar concerns.

“As a School Committee, we all heard from parents that they wanted more consistency and structure when students were learning online and I think the agreement that we’ve come to with the teachers’ union will provide more structure and more consistency for students who are learning online, learning remotely,” he says.

Negotiations led to no outward changes in school policy but, as Parolisi explains, the pact covers possible future scenarios.

“If Haverhill remains remote for three straight weeks, it would trigger a move to all remote learning for students,” says the union head.

Members of the Haverhill School Committee are expected to vote on the memorandum of understanding next Thursday, while members of the union are looking for a ratification vote around the same time.

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