FRAMINGHAM – Framingham teachers and staff were scheduled to return to their schools today, February 1, with students in phase 1 scheduled to return on Thursday, Feb. 4.
The Framingham Teachers Association, School Committee, and administration of the Framingham Public Schools negotiated during summer 2020 a MOU to open schools during the pandemic. More than 1,000 hours were spent negotiating the details, according to administrators.
On January 6, Framingham Public School staff was notified that a MyMedBot app would be operational for all staff when students and staff returned, to help curtail the spread of COVID-19. It is not a condition for returning, but suggested that teachers and staff use.
“Friday, January 29 will be our first day using the app,” according to a Framingham Public Schools HR newsletter.
“You will be required to complete the form on the app every morning before school begins. The form will be available at 4:00 am; you must submit the form at the same time as when you would have to notify your supervisor if you had to call out sick,” explained HR to Framingham Public School staff.
But on the Friday before the return on February 1, Framingham Teachers Association President Christine Mulroney sent an email to the Superintendent of School Bob Tremblay after 2:30 p.m. that the FTA now wanted to bargain the use of the MyMedBot app.
SOURCE reached out to the FTA President for a response, but none was received as of this report posting on February 1.
Created in 2020, the app software helps school communities get back up and running during the pandemic. “The product enables school nurses to easily screen for COVID-19 symptoms, communicate their latest protocol and have the data to make informed decisions,” said the website.
“The Framingham Public Schools adopted the MyMedBot App in order to allow all staff and families the ability to engage in a daily attestation of health with regard to COVID symptoms,” wrote Superintendent of School Tremblay today, February 1.
Students, families and staff will answer a series of COVID-19 related questions each school day via the mobile app (accessible on both mobile phones and computers). More than 1,300 FPS staff completed their attestation this morning prior to their first day back in school. The rollout will continue with staff and onto students as planned.
“The MyMedBot app, if used correctly and honestly, will help reduce the health and safety risk of all FPS staff, students, and their families. It is simple to use and takes only a few clicks to complete. I appreciate and support the district’s plan,” said School Committee Vice Chair Tiffanie Maskell, who represents District 7.
“I support the FPS plan and thank them and the Department of Public Health for working together on MyMedBot, another critical risk reduction measure offered to all schools,” said School Committee Cahir Adam Freudberg, who represents District 4.
“Given that the School Committee is the employer of record for FPS staff, I am always happy to meet with members of the FTA. However, by formally requesting to bargain I can only presume that the FTA leadership has an issue with their members attesting that they are symptom-free and do not have certain COVID risk factors before coming into school. Since the FTA leadership has repeatedly expressed their desire to ensure a safe environment for staff and students, I am very interested in understanding their objection to this simple and common risk mitigation step,” said District 3 School Committee member Scott Wadland.
The District’s HR newsletter provided a Q&A on the app and a step-by-step guide on how to use it. Below is the Q&A.
I have a chronic condition that leads to COVID-like symptoms (i.e. congestion due to allergies, headache due to migraines, diarrhea due to irritable bowel syndrome, etc.). What do I do?
Don’t worry. You don’t have to spend the rest of the school year taking sick time. If you have a chronic condition, at the first sign of a symptom, get a PCR COVID test (sorry, but you cannot use FPS test sites because you should not be coming in at this initial point), get a baseline for what the symptom feels like when you know it’s not COVID. From then on, you are encouraged to engage in weekly PCR COVID testing, and can check “No” on that symptom unless there is a change or increase in the symptom(s). If there is a change or new symptoms accompany your chronic symptoms, you must check “Yes,” stay home, get tested, and be cleared prior to returning to school.
If a teacher feels they have symptoms and don’t want to come in can they still work remote while our students are remote?
First, you must follow the process noted above (fill out the form on the app and call your supervisor). You should be ready to take a sick day. However, if there is an opportunity for us to allow teachers to telework while a Classroom Supervisor covers the class, your supervisor will make every attempt to do so. However, staffing is a challenge and will continue to be a challenge. It will be completely up to the administrator/supervisor to decide if you can telework since they are the ones who need to make the coverage arrangements.
Will staff that tests positive have the option to continue working remotely while it isn’t safe for them to come in-person?
That largely depends on our ability to obtain coverage, either internally or by using an available Classroom Supervisor. We certainly believe that it is best for students to continue receiving instruction from their teachers, but we must also recognize that staffing challenges will occur. It will be completely up to the administrator/supervisor to decide if you can telework since they are the ones who need to make the coverage arrangements.
What is the protocol if you have to travel out of state to bring a child to college? MA requires quarantining or a negative covid test. Do you have to use sick time until you receive test results? or can you work from home?
You will need to use accrued sick time until you receive your negative test results and present them to the District. Where possible, we will try to allow staff to telework. We approve the requests based on: job duties, work availability, and programmatic needs. This arrangement, even if approved, is not a guarantee and can be terminated at any time based on the needs of the school as determined by the administrator.