The school administration and union remain at odds over whether there should be in-class instruction this fall, and the description of the situation is considerably different depending on who you talk to.
“The school buildings and the conditions of work in anticipation of students are unprepared,” said Andover Education Association President Matthew Bach. “There’s a serious lack of preparation here. There’s still work being done on rooms and HVAC systems. And there was a high level of uncleanliness when we entered the buildings last week.”
But Superintendent Sheldon Berman said Monday, “There’s a lot of repairs and updating that has happened and I am confident we are going to be in good shape in terms of ventilation.”
The union requested that prior to members working inside school buildings the district have the HVAC system inspected by “an independent certified HVAC professional.”
Members also requested that HVAC be running every time someone is in the building, according to a “reopening negotiation” posted to the union’s website.
“We have asked for a school-by-school analysis of ventilation systems and we are working on that,” Berman said.
“We don’t have the results of the independent study yet,” he added.
Berman said he toured four schools in the district: High Plain Elementary, West Elementary, South Elementary and Sanborn School, where he met with the teachers in their classrooms.
“It was actually quite positive,” Berman said. “People are excited to see each other and they are looking forward to seeing their students.”
At the end of August, the teacher’s union held an emergency meeting where a majority of members voted to begin the year remotely rather than hold classes inside due to COVID-19.
On Aug. 10 the School Committee voted to open in a hybrid model — a combination of in-person and online learning.
Teachers were expected to report to work in the school buildings Monday, Aug. 31 for a day of professional development.
However, on that day, many union members worked outside. Only after the School Committee voted unanimously to take legal action against the union did teachers return to the classroom.
While union members decided to comply with the district’s request, members took a “no-confidence” vote in Berman.
“Superintendent Berman has shown persistent disregard for educators. He does not respect our professionalism and fails to take a cooperative approach in addressing the many challenges that face the district,” the statement reads.
But Berman says the union voted no confidence in him because they couldn’t get what they wanted out of their negotiations.
“I have confidence with my relationships with faculty and I think that in a situation like this it is to be expected,” said Berman. “They would like something different to happen and that’s not happening for them.”
Members of the AEA and the School Committee were scheduled to meet Tuesday evening for a confidential negotiation session. Results of that meeting were not available as of press time.