Boston Teachers Union rally outside City Hall for safe restart of public schools

BOSTON (WHDH) - Educators from the Boston Teachers Union started a car caravan toward City Hall ahead of a rally calling for the safe restart of public schools on Thursday.

Teachers and staff members gathered at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School around noon in preparation for the 2:30 p.m. rally.

“I have hopes that we will start remote and I have hopes that a vaccine will come in time so that we can reorient our plans,” said Katie Mallon, who teaches at the Channing Elementary School. “But in the meantime, I think we are definitely frightened.”

BTU is proposing that schools start with all remote learning followed by a phased-in approach to a hybrid model when it’s safe.

BTU President Jessica Tang says this appears to be the best option considering issues that school districts in other states are facing.

“We should learn from other school districts in other states who rushed to launch in-person instruction and are now dealing with multiple COVID-19 outbreaks,” she said.

The BTU feels the draft reopening plans provided by Boston Public Schools does not meet the standards necessary to ensure the safety of Boston school facilities, adequate staffing and supplies, and comprehensive guidance for families and school personnel regarding COVID-19.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Wednesday that he is close to making a decision on how public schools will reopen in the fall, acknowledging that Boston schools may have to restart with all remote learning but saying that he would like to see a hybrid approach phased in quickly depending on coronavirus data.

He said the school department is working hard to safeguard schools with hand sanitizing stations at entrances, renovated h-vac systems, plexiglass dividers, and classrooms with at least one working window.

The teachers said those solutions will not be effective.

“Personally, I teach in a windowless classroom,” caravan organized Sarah Grimmett said. “That automatically poses a really enormous threat. The solution that BPS has just presented is ‘Oh we just won’t use the windowless classrooms.’ Nowt hat’s really hard because our schools are overcrowded and underventilated as it is.”

This is a developing story; stay with 7NEWS on-air and online for the latest updates.

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