North Attleborough Federation of Teachers advocate for remote learning

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North Attleborough High School

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

North Schools administration has decided to go with a hybrid learning model in the fall, but it’s one that educators don’t fully back.

At the School Committee meeting on Aug. 3, Nicole Reminder, president of the North Attleborough Federation of Teachers [NAFT] read a prepared statement asking that school be fully remote.

There is nothing more important to our educators, paraprofessionals and staff of the North Attleboro Schools than returning to in-person learning of our students,” the statement reads. “After careful consideration of the monumental challenges around COVID-19, the North Attleboro Federation of Teachers believes that it is unsafe to reopen schools either in-person or under a hybrid model.”

The committee recently approved a proposal for a hybrid learning model, chosen due to the social distancing guidelines. Superintendent Scott Holcomb has said that with buses limited to 1/3 of their capacity and the six-foot social distancing rules, it would be impossible to bring all students back in the classrooms.

There’s a lot of hypotheticals and probables, but there’s no absolutes,” he said in a previous story. “If one kid gets sick, the entire cohort must be quarantined for 14 days. This would include the bus, class, and if they eat in the lunchroom.”

The hybrid model that will be used is Two Days In-Person—Three Days Remote. A teacher may be assigned 20 students to their class. These students would be in two cohorts with 10 students each. Each group would be in the classroom two days a week, with one group in the first two days a week and the second one the last two days. Students would be in remote classes when not in school, and all students would be remote learning on Wednesdays.

In the letter, the NAFT requests the following:

  • The school year starts exclusively remote learning.
  • The 10-days designated by the Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education should be used to provide Professional Development, training, and the development of a remote learning environment. This window of preparation be exclusively remote for the health and well-being of staff.
  • The NAFT request that schools commence negotiations for the remote learning model and are committed to work collaboratively with the district with the goal of safely returning students and staff physically back to school.

We all have an obligation to protect our students, parents, families, staff, and people across the Commonwealth and the nation to slow the spread of the virus,” the statement read. “Together we can achieve this goal and potentially save lives.”

On July 29, the Massachusetts Teachers Association held a virtual meeting that drew more than 7,500 members. Members were asked to discuss and vote at the local level on a motion passed by the MTA Board of Directors stating: “Therefore, the districts and the state must demonstrate that health and safety conditions and negotiated public health benchmarks are met before buildings reopen.”

We have an opportunity to make this school year under COVID-19 more meaningful and engaging for students,” said MTA President Merrie Najimy in a statement. “That includes addressing the current crises that are impacting all of us, from the pandemic to attacks on Black lives and on our democracy. We need to address student stress and trauma. We need to be creative to make sure students are learning, thinking and doing so that they come out of this crisis informed, inspired and ready to take on the world.”