Citing rising cases of COVID-19, the Boston Teachers Union announced Thursday that it is seeking an injunction to stop in-person learning at Boston Public Schools.
The union, which held an emergency town hall Wednesday night, said in a statement that it was headed to court for the injunction, an order to stop doing something, because Boston Public Schools and the city aren't standing by an agreement to move to full remote learning now that the citywide coronavirus infection rate is above 4%.
On Wednesday, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Boston is delaying plans to reopen the city's schools because the coronavirus positivity rate hit 4%.
Preschoolers and kindergartners who were scheduled to report to school the week of Oct. 15 instead will start Oct. 22, Walsh said. Grades 4 through 8 are now scheduled to transition to a hybrid model the week of Nov. 5, and grades 9 through 12 the week of Nov. 16, according to Walsh.
But the 1,300 highest-need students, who already returned to class last week, will continue with in-person learning if their parents so choose, Walsh said.
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The union said the agreement reached between it and the school system allows for teachers to work remotely if they want to once the COVID positivity rate in Boston tops 4%.
It said it would stand by any teachers who don't feel it's safe to return to work and face repercussions, and it urged members to reach out to Walsh, Superintendent Brenda Cassellius and the school committee chair to voice their concerns.
"We continue to recognize the importance of in-person instruction for many of our high needs students. We are aligned with the parents who want a plan from BPS for the safest, highest quality, in-person services possible for high needs students. And we strongly support our educators, who are also parents and often parents of high needs students, as well, to do what is best and safest for their families," read a statement from the union.
But according to the city, while the agreement says that teachers in the union have the option of working remotely when the COVID positivity rate tops 4%, they will be expected to return to buildings when city or state authorities say it's safe to reopen.
"The Mayor wholeheartedly believes that special consideration must be given to our highest needs students who rely on the in-person instruction and support offered by their teachers in a classroom setting, and that we cannot take this away from them when there’s an opportunity, backed by public health, to have them in schools," a spokesperson for the city said in a statement, which didn't give the spokesperson's name.