When I was a teacher, the first week back to school from winter break was always one of the toughest each year. It always took several days to remind students where we left off in the curriculum before break and to reacquaint them with classroom procedures that they had down perfectly in December.
But none of this compares to what you have had to contend with this year. To start with, over 1200 of you are recovering from a virus that is more widespread than ever. Those of you who were in school had to make due with masks that were less protective than promised and expired COVID tests. To put it simply, there was a deep systemic failure in ensuring an orderly and safe return from winter break. Once again, you were asked to do the impossible with completely inadequate support.
Last week, I spoke with several educators and heard the same thing that I have heard throughout the whole pandemic: they want to be in classrooms with their students because it is the most effective way to deliver content and just want to have basic safety guaranteed for students and staff. This is not too much to ask, and certainly something that should have been figured out after two years and millions of dollars in federal funding.
Educators have clear demands around masking, ventilation, and content delivery. There are two key opportunities for you to make your voices heard on these topics coming up: BPS FY23 budget hearings in February and March, and the continued negotiations between BTU and the city for a fair contract. You are the only ones who truly know what is going on in classrooms and which solutions will actually work; make sure your expertise is heard in these settings. E4E-Boston stands ready to support you in convening groups of educators, delivering testimonies, or contacting decision-makers.
Don’t hesitate to let me know personally how I can support you and your colleagues during this latest chapter of the pandemic. I can never thank you enough for all that you have done over the last two years, but please know that I and the rest of the E4E-Boston team are grateful for your efforts to educate students in a chaotic and unpredictable time.
State Director, E4E-Boston