Boston teachers rally for ‘Safer Schools’

Boston teachers rally for ‘Safer Schools’

BOSTON — A group of parents and teachers gathered on Saturday to rally for support to create what they consider to be safer schools for teachers and students. Union members and some parents say they’re frustrated in the city school district and mayor’s actions, so far.

“Until we know you’re listening, we will never, ever be quiet,” said Kelly Comma, stepmother of a second-grader with special needs.

Only about 1,300 students are in Boston Public School buildings out of 50,000 students, according to the district, and they are the high-needs students.

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Callie Liebmann, co-organizer of Saturday’s rally, says all schools should be closed immediately.

Teachers want the safest buildings, some of which they say are not being used, to provide in-person learning for high-needs students, and for the district to create a staffing model with dedicated staff for the program.

The union said all other teachers and students should be involved in remote learning to allow teachers to focus on creating a better educational experience.

A restraining order filed this week by the union seeks to block in-person classes; the union claims BPS violated its own rule to go fully remote if the city’s COVID-19 infection rate rose past four percent, and it stands at 4.1 percent.

"Boston City Council Member and Education Committee Chair Annissa Essaibi George disagrees with the union’s position.

“We’ve got so many kids that are really in need of those in-person services,” Essiabi George explained.

As a former teacher in Boston Public Schools, she sympathizes with teachers who are stretched in working with in-person students and remote learners.

“I think that’s a really difficult hurdle for our teachers and our kids,” Essiabi George added.

Mayor Marty Walsh’s office said in a statement: “The Mayor wholeheartedly believes that special consideration must be given to our highest needs students who rely on the in-person instruction and support offered by their teachers in a classroom setting, and that we cannot take this away from them when there’s an opportunity, backed by public health, to have them in schools.”

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