November 12, 2020
Brookline educators have been coming into the school buildings every day to teach the children of Brookline. We want nothing more than to have more children in our schools and more time with them. Since July, when the Brookline Educators Union requested to start negotiations, we have been working productively with the School Committee to reach an agreement that outlined how we can keep the buildings open safely with children and adults in attendance.
Our efforts to conclude an agreement were derailed when the School Committee refused to commit to having six feet of distance between student chairs. This was foundational to our months of negotiations, since all other safety protocols rest on this.
On Tuesday November 3, Brookline educators engaged in a one-day strike with the overwhelming support of our membership. We did not take this action lightly. We chose an action that would make the urgency clear, while having no impact on students, families and community members.
We need 6-foot distancing (a widely agreed upon measure) so that we can be with our students, something we embrace as the best part of our job. The School Committee says it wants flexibility to be able to change the distancing between students. We have proposed ways to work together to adjust the six feet going forward. We hope that the School Committee will continue in the positive direction it took at the table later last week.
As people on the ground, we, the educators of Brookline, need to be partners in decisions affecting children and educators. Educators are best positioned to know and understand the logistical challenges in implementing safety protocols. For example, the current schedule and use of the buildings means that thousands of children can be expected to routinely remove masks in closed spaces for lunch or snack.
Students, parents, educators and the community as a whole share the same goals and values, we believe, when it comes to providing a high quality public education and maintaining health and safety for all. As we continue to serve the children of Brookline, we and our students need your support.