CHICOPEE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Members of the Chicopee Education Association gathered in Chicopee this evening, protesting the city’s back-to-school plan. The district voted on a phased-in learning approach, and demonstrators say their plan will not work, but now, the school committee may revisit the decision.
On Wednesday, parents and staff were gathered at Chicopee School Department, holding signs and getting cars to honk in support. Officials are now thinking about revisiting other learning plans at their next meeting.
"The plan, as it is right now, with everything promised, just can't work, and it’s not safe, it's just not safe," said the president of the Chicopee Education Association, Laura Demakis.
As a Chicopee School Committee meeting was in session, demonstrators gathered on Broadway Street, all aligned with the same message they want to send to city officials and the community.
"It is not giving our students the education we deserve. It's not giving my members the ability to teach the way that we can, we are out here to say it and say it strong," she said. "We are asking them to reconsider and change the plan to something better for students, the parents, the community, and allows our teachers to teach."
The Chicopee School Committee voted on a phased-in learning approach. Most students will start the school year fully remote, with phases to bring more kids back into the classroom every three weeks.
Parents have the option to keep their children completely remote, and teachers have the option to teach remote but Demakis told Western Mass News some teachers might have to teach students in the classroom, as well as remote students, even if the teacher is fully remote themselves.
"None of my members, there are 500 people here, no one thinks that’s going to work, no one thinks that’s a good solution for the kids," Demakis explained.
She said officials are still waiting on an independent report of the air quality in the building, and within-person learning starting on September 15, for the first wave of students, she said they feel they need more time.
After the school committee meeting wrapped up, one member released a statement to Western Mass News, saying quote:
"Tomorrow, we have to see if they’re going to come back to the negotiating table or if it’s going to be an in pass.”
Now keep in mind if they do decide to add that to the next meeting, it would be discussed on September 16, after the first day of school has come and gone.