School Committee approves MOA on HHS mask policy with teachers union

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Following an executive session Tuesday night, the School Committee voted unanimously to approve a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Hopkinton Teachers Association regarding the new mask-optional policy for vaccinated individuals at Hopkinton High School.

Superintendent Carol Cavanaugh explained that the district had “come to an agreement with the Hopkinton Teachers Association in regards to the mask-lifting at Hopkinton High School,” and she added that the HTA had ratified the MOA earlier in the day.

In late October, after the School Committee voted 3-2 to approve the mask-optional trial period at HHS from Nov. 1-19, the HTA put out a statement criticizing the decision.

“Although we all look forward to the day when unmasking is possible, the decision to do so now, with blatant disregard for Hopkinton’s own Board of Health Director’s recommendation, feels premature while vaccines and boosters are as of yet unavailable to all,” the HTA statement read. “Citing the mask policy as an ‘educational policy’ rather than one of health and safety, the School Committee made the decision to forgo mandatory negotiations with the District’s 350 educators. Hopkinton educators have risen to face incredible challenges and have succeeded in providing excellent instruction throughout the pandemic. It is disheartening that the School Committee as a whole did not take educators’ concerns more seriously and include them in the decision-making process.”

In a follow-up interview, HTA president Becky Abate said while the union met with administrators before the decision was made, there was frustration that teachers did not have more of a say, and there still were parts of the policy that were unclear — including what would trigger a possible rescinding of the new rule.