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  • Writer's pictureMike Zilles

March 24 NTA COVID-19 Update

As you are aware, the NTA signed an agreement with the Newton Public Schools that covers the period from March 11 until April 4, 2020. It has become increasingly clear that schools will probably not reopen on April 7, and it is not clear if they will reopen at the end of April break.  In the light of these circumstances, we will need to negotiate a new agreement with the School Committee to extend beyond the April 4th deadline. To help us advocate on your behalf, we have created a survey that will allow us to better understand your needs. (Thank you to Chris Walsh for her work in putting together this survey!)

Please give us 15 to 20 minutes of your time. Click here to complete the NTA COVID-19 School Closure Survey. The survey will close at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 26th.  We are all living with a sense of high anxiety. Part of what we would like to gauge in this survey is how this anxiety impacts you and your work. That said, please be aware: Although our current agreement ends April 4th: 

  • All subsequent changes to the conditions under which we teach and students learn must be negotiated. 

  • There are no plans that we have heard of to change the terms of our compensation or benefits.

Sunday night, David Fleishman sent an email to staff, and in it shared a communication he sent out to the Newton community. Unfortunately, his message—that the district would be planning for the teaching, support, and assessment needed to introduce "new learning" versus the current focus on "academic enrichment"—created a good deal of uncertainty and anxiety among NTA members. Of course, the changing circumstances on the ground--the fact that this pandemic is spreading in Massachusetts, as elsewhere, creating so much uncertainty, is the paramount source of all our anxiety right now. Nor do I believe David's intention was to create anxiety for educators in Newton. Nonetheless, in what seems to me a rush to ameliorate the worries of some in the Newton community, David has generated much stress and worry for the NPS faculty. Of course, one metaphor for our present circumstances is that we must build an airplane even as we are flying it. And if we are guided by that metaphor, we must hurriedly do all we can to move learning forward. I've never much cared for that metaphor, but then, I've never much liked the idea of a crash landing.  "It’s easier to take it slow and add as we go, much harder to subtract what we do in haste" (Al Calderone). Before we go forward, we must assess where we are, from where we depart. As we work in our homes, the boundaries between work and home that normally support our sanity have become blurred. Help us take the measure of our current geography, understand the shifts and changes and their impact on you. Tell us where you are.Please give us 15 to 20 minutes of your time to provide us with this information. Click here to complete the NTA COVID-19 School Closure Survey. Rest assured that your responses will remain anonymous.  The survey will close at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 26th. One last thing. All of the COVID-19 Updates I have sent out to you are published on the Newton Teachers Association website, which you can access by clicking here. Another thank you for this, too, to Chris Walsh.

"Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose."

Please take care and stay well.



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