SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The Massachusetts Teachers Association and local districts are at odds with new guidance sent out by the state when it comes to remote learning.
Officials with the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said it's their expectations that teachers will conduct their remote instruction from the school building, rather than their homes.
State education officials claim that teachers giving remote instruction from their classrooms will give students learning from home a familiar experience.
They also said it will help teachers collaborate better.
Those from the Springfield Public School district said this guidance goes against what they already decided would be the safest for their teachers.
“Staff are working from their homes. That was our plan all along,” said Springfield Public School Supt. Daniel Warwick.
As the staff of Springfield Public Schools engages in remote professional development this week, Warwick said it's something the teachers should get used to.
Earlier in the month, the school committee voted Springfield would begin the academic year fully remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning both students and teachers would stay in their homes.
However, new guidance released Friday from the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recommends otherwise.
State officials said in their memo:
"It is the department’s expectation that teachers and critical support staff working in districts that have a remote learning model will report to their schools to work from the classrooms and educational spaces each day. "
Warwick noted, “We wanted to make sure that our students were safe and our staff are safe and we feel we can execute a strong remote plan.”
Springfield city officials said they are choosing to disregard that guidance for the time being.
They plan to have a risk assessment conducted on all of their public school buildings to ensure the HVAC systems don't pose a risk for spreading coronavirus.
Officials said it's a lengthy process and that the earliest anyone could be back in the buildings is November.
“It's important that we not stop our process because it's good public health,” said Springfield Commissioner of Health and Human Services Helen Caulton-Harris.
Maureen Colgan-Posner, president of the Springfield Education Association, added, “For them to say kids can't go into the building, but adults can doesn't make any sense.”
Colgan-Posner told Western Mass News that DESE's expectations put pressure on districts choosing a remote model.
“I do think they seem to keep up in the ante in a way. Every time they come up with new guidance, it just creates chaos instead of helping,” Colgan-Posner explained.
State officials with DESE have pushed districts to adopt a hybrid or in-person model if their community has a low number of COVID-19 cases.
As for the guidance they released last week, state officials told us it was crafted with input from superintendents across Massachusetts.