ANDOVER, MASS. (WHDH) - Educators in Andover have agreed to start the year remotely and are refusing to enter their school buildings next week, the teacher’s association announced on Friday.

During an emergency meeting, members of the Andover Education Association voted overwhelmingly to support the decision and are calling for a “phased in, safe return to in-person learning” amid the pandemic.

“It is simply not safe at this time for students and staff to be working together in crowded settings inside these buildings,” said Matthew Bach, president of the Andover Education Association. Members have decided they will not risk the health and safety of students, staff, or the community by walking into buildings that for decades have been underfunded, understaffed, and poorly maintained while a global pandemic continues to affect Essex County, the state, and our country.”

The union said the vote was taken “in response to the Superintendent and School Committee’s lack of good-faith bargaining over how to maintain the health and safety of educators and students in the reopening of schools.”

A “workplace safety action” is scheduled to take place in the day’s to come.

The Andover School Committee sent the following statement in response to the vote:

“Educators have been directed to begin their school year in-person on Monday, August 31. We continue to expect that they will. If the Union instead chooses to engage in an illegal work stoppage, we are prepared to address that through proper channels.”

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