Mass. Educators Don't Understand Why They're Being Told to Teach Remotely From Classroom

Even in districts where the school year is beginning with remote learning, teachers in Massachusetts are expected to work from the classroom, according to new guidance from the state

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While many students in Massachusetts will start the school year with remote learning, some teachers are upset that they will still have to report to the classroom.

"My husband and I are both teachers. I have a kindergartner starting school in a hybrid model, and a 7-month-old at home," said Emily Mackie.

Mackie is currently juggling life as a parent and a third-grade teacher in Brookline, where school is scheduled to start in a remote model in the fall. But under the recent state guidelines issued by Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley, teachers are still being instructed to teach from their classrooms, even during remote learning.

"I think that the more people you are bringing into a building, especially one that is – may not have the right air quality or doesn't seem safe, I think poses risks for everybody," Mackie said.

And while Mackie appreciates the commissioner's guidance that teachers can bring their children into the classroom while teaching, she doesn't feel safe doing so.

"If I'm bringing him to school, it's again, he's in another place of exposure, around other kids around other adults," said Mackie.

It's for similar reasons that teachers in Revere were protesting Monday morning.

Revere Teacher's Union President Gina Garro says with infection rates in the city so high that officials there decided to create a COVID-19 enforcement team, she doesn't understand bringing teachers into buildings, in numbers higher than the governor allows to congregate indoors, when they argue they can teach just as effectively from home.

"For the commissioner to come out and say that you're going to do your job in an empty classroom, what does that say?" she asked. "You don't trust us, you don't trust what we're doing, you have to watch us and you're willing to risk our lives to do that."

"In remote scenarios, instruction from the classroom is the most effective educational environment," an education department spokeswoman said in a statement.

She pointed out that it's not a mandate, but an expectation for teachers and staff.

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