Sisters and Brothers,
First and foremost, I apologize for not sending you my weekly update from the Joint Stakeholder Coronavirus Response Team last night. We met just before a powerful School Committee meeting which featured a number of educators advocating passionately for a Living Wage. It was empowering to watch member after member stand up for their ESP colleagues. The impact of these testimonials, including our recent email campaign, was evident as School Committee members practically tripped over one another during Dr. Marotta’s budget proposal to ensure money would be available to ensure ESPs and other working class school employees are paid a fair living wage. Please keep these emails coming! ESPs bargain again on Wednesday, November 18th.
Consentino educators returned to the building today following nearly two weeks of remote work due to the recent outbreak there. Members who fell ill are recovering, and some have returned work. At the urging of the HEA members there, Dr. Marotta and the public health officials were able to secure access for students whose parents volunteered to have them tested prior to returning to school. While it was not the universal testing they had asked for, the District made a good faith effort to test as many students as they could, and so far none of the results have come back positive. Some tests are still awaiting results or have not yet been performed, but the preliminary results were encouraging enough to give staff their confidence that the risk associated with returning was low.
From November 5th through the 11th, according to public health officials, 2 new students were confirmed positive for coronavirus and in their school buildings during their potential infectious period. An additional 8 Haverhill public schools students who are either RLA students or were not in school during their infectious period also tested positive. 1 additional staff member tested positive. While the staff member was not in a building during the 48-hour infectious period, the case was reported as having been in a school during in the 7 days prior to testing positive because DESE has different reporting requirements for adults. 63 students are on quarantine as close contacts while 18 are positive cases. 13 staff members are currently quarantining with 5 positive for the coronavirus.
As you are aware, Haverhill’s overall coronavirus numbers have risen yet again. Our average daily incidence rate has gone from 14 per 100,000 residents a week ago to 21.6 – an all-time high – and the percent positivity rate jumped to 3.39%. Of course, a week ago this would have meant that Haverhill remains in the “red” risk designation according to the state’s guidelines. However, Governor Baker has simply redefined what it means to be labeled as “red”, making our current designation of “yellow” misleading and dangerous. Jeff Riley and DESE have likewise changed their guidelines to make it easier for them to force schools to bring more and more students into the buildings despite worsening public health conditions in the community.
Educators across the Commonwealth have had enough.
A growing number of locals across Massachusetts have passed resolutions of no confidence in DESE and Commissioner Jeff Riley. Tonight, I am calling on the Haverhill Education Association to join the chorus of educators who have lost faith in our current state leadership to get us through the remainder of this crisis. It is clear to me that the time has come for us to gather our strength and stand in solidarity with our union siblings in the Merrimack Valley and beyond that it is time for a change.
Please join the HEA Action Team and Executive Committee for an all-member meeting on Monday, November 16th at 7:30 pm.
I. Call to Order
II. Adoption of Rules and Agenda
III. “Moving the Goalposts” – Discussion of changing DESE guidelines
IV. Consideration of a Resolution of No Confidence in the DESE and Commissioner Jeffrey Riley
V. Next steps/Action items
Anthony J. Parolisi
Haverhill Education Association