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School nurses rally with staffers at Boston City Hall to demand safety

BOSTON (AP) — Nurses for the Boston public school system along with teachers and bus drivers gathered at City Hall on Wednesday to demand that Mayor Marty Walsh and Superintendent Brenda Cassellius provide better assurances that schools will be safe when they reopen this fall.

The nurses also demanded a larger voice in reopening plans.

“No students or staff should be asked to risk their lives or their loved ones by going back in person 一 not even under a hybrid plan 一 until all possible health and safety precautions are addressed and verified,” said BTU President Jessica Tang in a statement. “The District should work with educators, especially our school nurses, to plan and prepare for a reopening that is safe, equitable and healthy for everyone.”

Jessica Tang, president of the Boston Teachers Union, speaks to the crowd on City Hall Plaza. —Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

“Overall, the district must be transparent in all aspects of assessing and planning for safety in the schools,” said Jonathan Haines, BTU member and nurse at McKinley Middle School. “How can families decide whether or not to send their children to school, if they don’t even know how it’s being cleaned?”

The Boston Teachers Union is urging the city to implement policies consistent with safe nursing practices, offer rapid COVID-19 testing at all schools, and provide all staffers and students with sufficient personal protection equipment.

The union is also calling for adequate ventilation and cleaning policies, more substitute teachers and nurses, additional staff to enforce safety protocols, and designated isolation rooms.

A Boston Public Schools spokesperson tells WHDH-TV the school system “will continue to monitor the evolving state and local public health guidelines.”

Boston Teachers Union nurses and staff hold a sit-in on City Hall Plaza. —Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff)
Boston Teachers Union nurses and staff are asking for a safe and equitable re-opening of the schools during the continuing coronavirus pandemic. —Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff
Sharon Harrison, a school nurse at the William E. Carter School (a special needs school in the South End), is asked about her concerns during Wednesday’s rally. —Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff)
oston Teachers Union nurses and staff hold a sit-in on City Hall Plaza. —Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

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