[for complete text, scroll down and click on right.] We want to thank the families of our Amherst-Pelham Schools for your support of our efforts in educating your students. We want to acknowledge the important role of families in partnering with us in student learning. Many of us are also parents, and we are acutely aware of the challenges of remote learning and teaching. We are also proud to offer engaging, relevant, and challenging curricula to our students despite the steep learning curve we have climbed as educators during a pandemic.
There are specific reasons for concern over in-person learning in ARPS. For example, the district does not yet have a plan for fitting all in-person students into the schools with six feet distancing and effective air circulation. The Memorandum of Agreement between the APEA and the School Committee includes testing and passing of ASHRAE standards for all buildings. All initial testing has been completed but not all reports are in yet. Still pending are re-testing of spaces that initially failed.
Until recently, Amherst schools had no COVID testing. As of Friday, December 4, Amherst schools are a high-priority testing location according to the state, for those with COVID symptoms only. We are excited that UMass will also be opening its asymptomatic testing to the community. These are very recent, positive developments.
Through the Joint Labor-Management Safety Committee, the APEA continues to problem-solve with the district on these and other issues.
We are mindful of the rising COVID rates in our area. We are also mindful of how Black and Brown families across the country have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. There are studies that claim schools are not drivers of infection, and there are other studies that claim that they actually are. We are weighing all these factors and more, but mostly, we are working to bring high quality education to our students.
We continue to work with District leadership to move toward the time when students can engage in in-person learning.