Teachers, nurses hold sit-in at Boston City Hall over concerns about reopening schools

BOSTON (WHDH) - Teachers, nurses, and bus drivers who have concerns about students returning to the classroom this fall amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic held a sit-in at Boston City Hall on Wednesday to demand Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Boston Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Brenda Cassellius, and city leaders safely and equitably reopen schools for in-person instruction with a verifiable assurance that proper COVID-19 safeguards and facilities upgrades are in place.

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Demonstrators gathered to also demand “a seat at the table” to give meaningful feedback and input on reopening plans and decisions.

The Boston Teachers Union is urging the city to implement policies consistent with safe nursing practices, offer rapid COVID-19 testing at all schools, and provide all staffers and students with sufficient personal protection equipment before classrooms reopen in September.

Union members are also calling for adequate ventilation and cleaning policies, more substitute teachers and nurses, and additional staff to enforce safety protocols, as well as designated isolation rooms.

“Now they’re fighting for health and safety and we’ve been trying to advocate for them to get a voice at the table when they have the expertise both as health professionals and as nurses who work in schools and knowing all of the different logistical considerations that we need to be thinking about,” said Jessica Tang, president of the Boston Teachers Union.

A Boston Public Schools spokesperson told 7NEWS that the school system “will continue to monitor the evolving state and local public health guidelines.”

Tentative plans for reopening city schools include three models of instruction: entirely in-person, entirely remote, and a hybrid of the two.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh said last week that all students physically returning to the classrooms would “probably be a stretch.”

If students do end up being allowed back in the classroom, there will be an array of safety restrictions in place to guard against the transmission of coronavirus, including:

  • Social distancing of 6 feet
  • Masks required for all students and staff
  • Only one student per row per bus
  • No food served in cafeterias
  • Strict health protocols for buses and schools
  • No group gatherings if infections increase

As of right now, students and staff will not be required to be tested for coronavirus before entering the schools.

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