LETTER: District Message is ‘We Neither Trust Nor Respect Framingham Educators’

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FRAMINGHAM – The message of last night’s FPS School Committee meeting from Dr. Tremblay, Central Office administrators and principals, School Committee members Beverly Hugo, Karen Dempsey, Scott Wadland, Adam Freudberg, Pricilla Sousa and Jessica Barnhill was loud and clear: We neither trust nor respect Framingham educators.

So, I’d like to ask parents to consider: if the district can so blatantly disregard the concerns of health and safety of its teachers by mandating us to go into unsafe working conditions, how much do they really care about your children? 

Specifically:

Do you trust that the buildings your children will be entering will be safe? (Will they have the proper Merv 13 filters, bionic ionizers, ventilation changes, touchless paper towel dispensers, mobile hand washing stations, working thermostats that a safe building requires? As of today — three weeks away from having teachers in the building — these are not in place.)

Do you trust that the district will use science and medical advice to make decisions? (Dr. Wong, director of the City’s Board of Health, has recommended that schools open only when the number of cases in Framingham is trending downward and that there is an effective contact tracing program in place, neither of which are happening right now. In addition, Dr. Tremblay and Mr. Freudburg dismissed the use of masks by staff when they are teaching in the building, despite all public health recommendations to wear one when in an enclosed space. Moreover, Dr. Tremblay has referred to the spacing of desks six feet apart as “aspirational,” meaning not all students will be safely distanced.)

Do you trust that the district will be honest with parents and the community about your child’s COVID-19 exposure if and when it happens? (If past is prologue: On the first day buildings were open to staff in June, there was a documented case of a staff member with COVID-19 who was in contact with other people. The district called this a “rumor” and would not respond to questions regarding potential exposure. They did not conduct any contract tracing. They did not communicate with staff. Will parents be similarly stonewalled?)

Do you trust that the district is focusing on adding necessary medical staff and resources to ensure safety? (As of now, no new nurses are being hired, so who will staff both the nurse’s office and the isolation rooms? On the other hand, Dr. Tremblay has requested that a new Central Office administrator, a director of k-12 curriculum to the existing assistant superintendents of curriculum, be hired – an indicator of where his priorities lie.)

Do you trust the bus drivers of Durham to get your child to school safely? For the past two years, buses have not been able to get all students to school on time. The district has used the excuse that bus drivers are “hard to find.” Are you comfortable that an under-performing transportation company will find staff who will supervise mask wearing, social distancing, and other behaviors, all while driving a bus?

Do you trust that the administration has provided teachers the clear leadership, guidance and resources they require to successfully develop remote curriculum? (Teachers were told that we “failed” remote teaching in the spring. However, the district instructed us not to contact students until they were able to deliver chrome books; they instructed us not to give grades, only extra credit; they directed teachers not to use excellent learning platforms that offered free access during the pandemic for fear that we would “get used to using them” and then the district would eventually have to pay for them! As of today, the district has not informed us on any additional resources that we will have for online instruction. We do not know if our students will have access to books. We do not know if they all will have chrome books. We do not know what professional development will be offered. How can we possibly plan without knowing what tools we and our students will have?)

Framingham’s teachers have been asking these hard questions for months. Now, it is time for parents, the Mayor, the City Council and the community to demand that Dr. Tremblay, the FPS administration and School Committee (with the exception of Ms. Maskell, Mr. Epstein, and Mr. LeBarge) stop making empty promises and promoting vague plans. They must begin providing answers as to how they will safeguard Framingham’s children because time is running out.

Glenda Cohen

Framingham High School Teacher

editor

email: editor@FraminghamSource.com call or text at 508-315-7176

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