LETTER: Watertown Teachers Union Responds to State’s Letter on Starting In-Person Classes

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The Watertown Educators Association supports the School Committee and Superintendent Deanne Galdston in their decision to begin the school year with a robust remote learning plan and a strategic return to in-person learning using sensible health and safety protocols.

Educators are dismayed by Commissioner Jeff Riley and Governor Charlie Baker’s threatening directive to recklessly force students and educators back into school buildings.

How the school year unfolds is a local decision arrived at democratically, and stakeholders in the community have made clear that beginning with remote learning is the best way to meet the needs of students while preventing the spread of COVID-19 to our students, our school staff, and the community.

Educators want nothing more than to be back in classrooms with their students. However, the risk of COVID-19 makes that impossible, and is particularly concerning in Watertown where school buildings present health and safety issues to address before a physical return makes sense.

Educators, students, and families are working together to meet the incredible challenges of creating a successful learning environment. Commissioner Riley and Governor Baker should not undermine this work with baseless threats, especially as the state reports significant amounts of new COVID-19 cases daily — and, sadly, persistent daily deaths attributed to the disease. 

Watertown fulfilled its obligation to the state in presenting education plans for different scenarios many weeks ago. The state must now respect Watertown’s local decision.

Deb King
Watertown Educators Association

9 thoughts on “LETTER: Watertown Teachers Union Responds to State’s Letter on Starting In-Person Classes

  1. Deb King, do you find going to Home Depot, Star Market, Andrea’s Pizza, Watertown Toyota, Halfway Cafe, Russo’s, Target, etc. etc. hazardous to your health and safety? If you can tell us here that you and your union members are truly quarantined/isolated because of legitimate health concerns than I will be the first to wholeheartedly support the teacher’s union. Otherwise, there are children that are falling behind each and every day because remote learning does not work for every student. Teachers KNOW this, you know this. Enough of the town doesn’t care, the state doesn’t care, parents don’t care, the good Lord doesn’t care, story line that you have used repeatedly during your many years as president/shop steward of the district’s chapter of the MTA.

  2. The COVID rate is really low for Watertown so I don’t understand your reasoning. Very poor decision for our youth who are the real losers.

  3. All Watertown private schools are open for in-person learning, yet the unions from public schools invoke COVID reasons to continue the fake remote learning. I hope people will wake up and ask for defunding public schools.

  4. Fred you really nailed it with your identification of “hazardous to health and safety”
    businesses, but you missed some like CVS where there is disregard for social
    distancing. IMHO Watertown still needs to better understand and respect CV-19.

    I listened to commissioner Riley and found his attitude very off-putting and
    unconvincing. Reminded me of Trump.

  5. This is a honestly really a sad day. I never though I’d see the moment when there would be organized teachers fighting against students getting the public education that they are entitled to and so desperately need right now. I know a lot of teachers don’t feel this is right, but their voice is drowned out by unfounded claims and foot dragging we see above.

    The truth is that it is safe to go back now with masks and social distancing. Every other town with similar rates to Watertown is doing it. What is “reckless” is keep kids cooped up at staring at ipads (a that’s the best case with zoom school, many kids can’t sit still and focus on the little screen for much time at all).

    Virtually every other school with low rates has open doors, but Watertown’s are closed. In fact, pretty much everything in the state is open to some degree but our schools are closed. But, it seems the official point of view of the WEA that Watertown’s school are less essential than everything else.

    The plan the want to stick with has high school and middle school kids out for at least another 9 week and elementary for 4+ week. It will be a lasting disgrace to our town (city) if our kids are sitting at home that long while all the other kids in the state are in school.

  6. Watertown school should be open. Watertown is ranked at 152 state wide and 106 in Boston metro, not good at all. Something is amiss in our school system.

  7. If only we could predict the future as well as all of you!

    Right now, Massachusetts has the second highest reproduction rate in the nation for COVID-19. https://rt.live/us/MA

    That’s not a good sign.

    Also, Baker continues to withhold key pandemic data. https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/09/27/metro/governor-baker-his-staff-continue-withhold-key-pandemic-data/

    So can be hard to really know what’s going on. Please don’t excuse Baker and the department of education when you say it’s all politics.

    And, sure, there is nothing the teachers want more than to teach over Zoom. Because it so awesome! For everyone! To even say that teachers do not care about the kids – what is wrong with you? But must they demonstrate their caring by risking themselves and their families? Thank goodness the teachers DO have a union – because they get so little respect for what they do.

    Private schools need $$ to stay in business – because they are a business – their decisions are colored by that – just like colleges.

    As for Home Depot etc. Well, I don’t think anyone is choosing to spend 8 hours a day in those places so I’m not seeing the comparison.

    Please remember, when schools do open for in-person teaching, the kids will only be there 2 days a week (high school plan) because the schools is not big enough to social distance according to the state guidelines. So right now it’s 0 days in school vs 2.

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