Teachers and district reach tentative agreement


MILA BARRY, Editor-in-chief

After protracted negotiations, the School Committee and the Gloucester Teacher’s Association have settled on a tentative agreement to update the contract. Though the document itself expires next summer, the GTA and the School Committee were working on an addendum called an MOU (memorandum of understanding) which addresses changes which resulted from COVID-19. 

The MOU is like an addendum to the current contract as the MOU we agreed to in the Spring covered the closure last Spring, but expired on the last day of school,” GTA Vice President Rachel Rex explained, “The MOU will cover the changes in procedures and protocols returning to school during the COVD 19 Pandemic.  

Two main points of contention slowed progress: health and safety, specifically indoor air quality, and the expectation the School Committee had of teachers to teach both in person and online students at the same time. 

However, a compromise has been reached.

The School Committee has conceded mandatory synchronous teaching,  in exchange for a withdrawal of the proposal to have the district’s air handling systems evaluated. 

Rex described the process: “We were scheduled to meet on Monday, November 16th from 6-9pm and our negotiating team usually pre-meets. During that time, a member of their [the School Committee’s] team contacted our MTA field rep, to see if we could put the remaining issues to bed. Basically, if the School Committee would agree to make teaching in-person and online synchronously optional we would withdraw the independent assessment of the air handling systems. So we went back and forth a couple of times and finally found an agreement that worked.”

Since both groups retracted major demands, the MOU introduces no radical changes. In general, things will continue to function as they have since hybrid learning began. And though the document is not perfect by either party’s standards, Rex is proud of the progress they made together. 

“It is a document that I feel comfortable asking my colleagues to agree to,” she said, “I encourage them to ratify it.”