Sharon teachers protest reopening plans for schools this week

Sharon teachers protest reopening plans for schools this week

BOSTON — Dozens of teachers in Sharon lined the streets Monday, protesting the reopening plans for schools this week.

“We’re being told that they’re safe to enter, but the evidence that we see in the buildings tells us something else,” said Lori Ayotte, an English teacher at Sharon High.

These teachers worry the schools aren’t safe enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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They took pictures of some of the HVAC systems patched up with duct tape and cardboard.

The Sharon School Committee says the ventilation exceeds health and safety standards and that all buildings are safe to reopen to students, but teachers aren’t convinced.

“Whether or not it’s outside air coming in or if they’re just recirculating inside air, it’s not completely clear, things aren’t fixed, it’s clear because all the parts are on the floor,” said Bernadette Murphy, president of the Sharon Teachers Association.

In Sharon, the concern is air quality, while in Holliston the issue is staffing.

Holliston Public Schools just delayed in-person learning until they hire enough support staff to assist with the new COVID restrictions, especially for elementary schools.

“Most of it is the health and safety monitors because those are new positions we added to help students to the bathrooms, help with some of the lunch things, make sure the kids have their masks on right,” said Dr. Susan Kustka, superintendent of Holliston schools. “And all those things require extra hands.”

While Holliston works on filling those new jobs for grades K-3, it’ll be an extra week before middle schoolers return and two more weeks before high school students can go back to class.

“It is a little disappointing,” said Anne Silver, a parent in Holliston. “Obviously I think everyone is interested in going back for at least hybrid model, but we know they have a lot to take care of.”

While some parents look forward to that return to school, many teachers, like the group in Sharon, hope to stay fully remote until everything gets worked out.

“Not to mention we have teachers who have to choose between their income and their health and this district has been known for its fine teachers,” said Murphy. “We’ve got some really fine teachers who right now are having to make a really tough choice.”

The Sharon School Committee emphasizes all buildings are safe to reopen.

The plan is to start school Wednesday remotely and then students will return to the classrooms on Thursday for the hybrid model.

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