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Some N.H. Teachers' Unions Spar With School Boards Over Reopening

Dan Tuohy for NHPR

With school just weeks away, some districts are still at odds with teachers' unions over whether to reopen buildings.

Unions across the state are still in the process of  bargaining with districts over how reopening plans affect current contract provisions.

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And in Rochester and Timberlane, teachers' unions are pushing their school boards to reconsider plans that put staff and students back into school buildings.

On Thursday, the Timberlane Teachers’ Associaton sent a letter to the school board, asking it opt for a fully remote option for the first six weeks to "provide time to plan a comprehensive model that addresses the needs of all students and staff.”

Union president Maria Kendall says the request was neccessary because the union hasn't received answers to its questions about “everyday logistics,” including how to enforce mask rules, how PPE will be made available, who will disinfect classrooms between cohorts, and whether textbooks and shared materials will be allowed in classrooms.

“It’s like asking a surgeon to go into surgery and not providing any tools,” Kendall said.

During statewide school closures in the spring, parents expressed outrage over the district’s transition to remote learning, which only allowed for limited contact between teachers and students and barred any live online instruction.

Kendall says the Remote 2.0 model would be an improved version of the spring model, but many families say the district should return to in-person learning so their kids have better instruction and parents can return to work.


COVID and The Classroom: NHPR wants to understand how this unusual school year is playing out across the state. Every few weeks, we'll ask you to answer a new question. The latest: How has going back to school been different for you this year? Give us a few examples here to help us tell the story.

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.

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