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  • Writer's pictureMike Zilles

NTA EBulletin, July 19, 2020

There continues to be much concerning news. I am sure, for example, that most of you have already read about the recently published study from South Korea, which show that students are vulnerable to COVID-19 and can spread it. It is abundantly clear that the overly confident conclusions about student infection rates and spread that inform the DESE guidelines are unfounded.  This week, I do not have a huge proposal to put in front of you, nor groundbreaking news from negotiations. We met with the School Committee again on Friday. We made some progress, though certainly not enough. All of the planning committees met at least once this week, and they are making some progress, though I also fear not enough. I will provide further update on these venues as soon as I know more. For this week, I believe, the most important thing is that we hear from you.  First of all, I have been receiving many many emails from members, and I am sorry to say I cannot respond as quickly or as thoroughly to these as I would like. I ask your forbearance: I read everything that comes into my inbox. To the extent possible, I take note of everything I learn, and I make every effort to make what you communicate count in how the NTA responds to this moment of crisis. But it's a lot, and I have not been able to keep up, and still do the other things I must do. I would never ask members not to reach out directly to me, but bear in mind that I'm one person, and, if at all possible, please use the other avenues enumerated below for communicating with the NTA. These allow us to take advantage of the many people in the NTA that support the work we are doing. Second, David Fleishman will be making presentations and answering staff questions this Wednesday. We encourage you all to attend your session, and, if you can, to submit questions beforehand. Third, we encourage you to attend the "debriefing" sessions that NTA reps will run for your buildings following David's presentations. Please be on the lookout for invitations. For high school educators, Jamie Rinaldi and I are searching for ways to host debriefing sessions that bring North and South staff together; please be on the lookout for those invitations as well.  Fourth, we have also prepared a staff survey. Please take a few minutes to fill this out. Please note that we have asked almost all "quantitative" questions, with little opportunity for you to provide open feedback. I regret this very much, but time constraints simply preclude us being able to read open feedback. I wish it were otherwise, please bear with this limitation. Fifth, sometime this week we will be sharing with you thematized summaries from the focus groups we conducted at the end of the school year.  Finally, I want you to know that I continue to be heartened by the amazing generosity of spirit that members share with me every day. This is a period of profound crisis and incredible anxiety and tension. Whatever we do to reopen schools will be fraught, and none of us will be able to do our jobs in the ways we would like. In fact, none of the solutions we are considering are something we would choose were it not for the pandemic. I think we all share this tremendous wish that it were otherwise, that we could all just go back to normal, that we did not have to choose the best among bad alternatives. Yet I continue to hear from so many of you that you know your union has your back; that in spite of their being no "good" solutions, you believe we will find a way through this that is as safe, manageable, and humane as possible. Thank you for all of these words of encouragement. They are all so well received, and so necessary. What I find most inspiring is that you show me how much you have each others' backs; that you care deeply for your colleagues and friends, for your students, for their families and your own, for your community, and your nation during this period of profound crisis. You give me confidence that, as educators, and as unionists, we will stand as an example of human decency that all can see. You defy, by your example, the tremendous division and ugliness that is rocking our communities. As educators, you are, and remain, leaders. You show me every single day that we are living up to our calling. Thank you!

"Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose." Please take care and stay well. Mike


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