Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Tonight, during our Emergency Meeting members came together and collectively raised their voice to vote no confidence in the Haverhill School Committee. The only way for them to earn that confidence back is to visit those sub-separate and other cohort c classroom currently meeting in-person throughout the district. That is the only way they can finally make an informed decision about what should be done in our schools.
Thank you to all who attended and shared their ideas going forward to support this move.
We now ask members to:
- Sign your name to the letter by clicking here and demand that School Committee members visit those classrooms currently open before the holiday break. Over 260 members have already signed!
- Send a personal invitation to each School Committee member asking them to visit your or a colleague’s classroom. Be sure to include a personal story describing the challenges of in-person learning during this surge and any other effects it has on you personally. Because the mail is so slow during the pandemic, you should be sure to send the invitation electronically (firstname.lastname@example.org) to be sure it’s received on time. If you still want to make sure your message includes the personal touch, you can find the School Committee members’ address here: https://www.haverhill-ps.org/school-committee/members/
The School Committee has scheduled another emergency meeting on December 29th at 7:00pm to once again discuss the learning model for the return from the holiday break. In the meantime, the Action Team will continue to reach out to members 1:1 to see what steps come next if the School Committee won’t accept our invitation and plan for another general membership meeting on December 30th to discuss any decisions made by the School Committee the night before.
The Haverhill Education Association
Action Team and Executive Board
HEA Votes No Confidence In Haverhill School Committee
This letter is to address the recent decision made by the School Committee on December 15th. After hearing claims that the safety of all students and staff are priorities to these members, it was decided that all K-5 students and those categorized as high needs (Cohort C) would return to school on January 4th. We do not feel that this decision reflects these priorities. It is important to note that as bad as the numbers are now, the historical data shows that between January 1st and 14th they are all but guaranteed to be worse. We are therefore taking this vote to demonstrate that we collectively agree that the Haverhill School Committee has failed to take the safety of the educators, service providers, and students into account based on their decision.
The staff that the School Committee is forcing back in during this time will be the staff who regularly face the riskiest work environments, even during non-COVID times, while you continue to meet remotely and city hall remains shut down. Specifically, in your sub-separate and therapeutic programs (i.e. TEACH, Greenleaf), as well as all preschool classrooms, educators and service providers are faced with multiple students who are unable to properly wear a mask or socially distance due to the nature of their disabilities or age. In some rooms, this is every student, including teenagers who we know carry nearly the same COVID transmission-related risks as adults. Given the needs of these students, such as support with personal care and feeding as well as hand-holding in order to get around, social distancing for staff working in these programs is impossible, and all staff are considered close contacts if one student has a COVID exposure. It was said by this School Committee that these safety concerns would be remedied with proper PPE and fidelity to protocols. However, it is simply impossible to sustain teaching and meet expectations with unstable room temperatures and while wearing the proper PPE without overheating. It’s obvious to us that no member of this School Committee has attempted to conduct a lesson in a KN95 mask.
The message from this is clear: we can either follow social distance guidelines and withhold from our students an adequate education, or we can teach students remotely and use our expertise, teamwork, and collaboration to provide the most appropriate education that remote learning will offer while avoiding risking the lives of those that educate and care for these students.
The shuffling back and forth between remote and hybrid creates a great amount of confusion for the students, impeding their ability to learn. Some students (e.g. ELLs, homeless students, etc) are placed into classrooms with 1-2 other students, or into rooms they may not be familiar with, and are monitored by staff who may or may not be familiar to them. These inconsistencies are creating an unstable learning environment, and causing a good portion of these students to exhibit anxiety, depression, and stress. With our positivity rate being over 5% for 4 consecutive weeks, now at 10.9% and climbing, a clear standard or metric for when it is safe to return to a hybrid model or remain fully remote needs to be developed and instituted as a district. This will allow appropriate planning (e.g., child care, work packets, etc.) for educators and parents/guardians.
Although we have taken this vote of no confidence, that confidence is not permanently lost, because we believe that if this School Committee was more familiar with what actually goes on in our buildings and what educators face on a daily basis, they would have voted for full remote schooling. Therefore, we invite the members of the School Committee, before the holiday break, to take a brief tour of each building that holds students who will be returning on January 4th. This is the only way you will be able to make an informed decision on the 29th. If you don’t feel safe completing a tour in our building at this time, how could you in good conscience place others into a situation where you yourselves feel unsafe. This includes all therapeutic programs and sub-separate classrooms (including Moody, TEACH, and Greenleaf). Ask yourselves not just, “Is this the best way to teach?” but also, “Is it safe?” We then ask that you meet and reevaluate your decision to continue with the hybrid learning model for elementary level and high needs students. We ask that you regain our trust by following the CDC guidelines for travel and err on the side of caution. Until the above actions are taken, however, we feel that you are putting our lives in danger. Therefore, we, the general membership of the Haverhill Education Association, declare no confidence in the Haverhill School Committee.
To add your name to this letter, click here.