Brookline School Committee mandates COVID-19 vaccination for staff with full in-person learning



The Brookline School Committee convened virtually on Sep. 9 at 6 p.m. to discuss the new COVID-19 vaccination for all PSB staff and the reopening of schools for the new school year.

The Brookline School Committee (BSC) convened virtually via Zoom on Sep. 9 at 6:00 p.m. to discuss the full in-person reopening of all Public Schools of Brookline (PSB) and goals for the 2021 – 2022 school year.

After consulting leading health experts and observing an upward trend in cases of COVID-19, the BSC voted to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for all PSB staff by Nov.1, 2021 unless given a religious or medical exemption by state or federal law.

The BSC noted that they are working in ordinance with the Brookline Educators Union (BEU) and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) to make PSB safe for students and faculty alike.

According to Superintendent Dr. Linus Guillory – who assumed the position of Superintendent of PSB on July 1 – this past summer, the town administration worked hard to find new candidates for available positions in PSB and the BSC, welcoming many new faces into town leadership.

Guillory said he has been working hard to connect with the town community since the assumption of his position on July 1 of this year.

“I have met with principals and senior staff for a highly effective three-day productive work session to collaborate on goals, setting and school opening,” Guillory said. “We have conducted interviews with school committee members, principals, senior staff and municipal colleagues and met with many community partners, including leaders from the Brookline Education Foundation, Brookline Innovation Fund and the Brookline and Teen Center.”

In addition to these efforts, Guillory said he has also visited the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) headquarters in Boston, meeting with its president, and the Brookline Housing Authority residents to celebrate the annual back to school social.

The meeting also covered support systems in place for ninth grade students adjusting to the high school environment.

Deputy Superintendent for Student Services Casey Ngo-Miller said the initiative for this guidance is taking charge with the addition of Dean of 9th Grade Brendan Kobus.

“Under Brendan Kobus, there’s been a real focus [for the ninth grade] with the new students coming into the high school, on building relationships between students and staff, during advisory guidance,” Ngo-Miller said. “Counselors are also making sure that they’re showing up and introducing themselves to these students.”

Ngo-Miller said students who do not have a reliable adult to talk with should be the first priority.

“At the high school, counselors [are] identifying those students who did not endorse a safe adult at the end of their eighth grade year for our upperclassmen. We’re really focused again on connecting adults to students,” Ngo-Miller said.

Senior Director of Equity Jenee Uttaro said addressing the prevalent inequities throughout the district is an important start.

“Our priorities this year are our diversity equity and inclusion efforts in our schools, and also to name the current realities, the inequities that keep us up at night in equities that we need to spend this year continuing to work on,” Uttaro said.

Uttaro said there will be several Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (SEED) seminars for PSB staff and faculty that will help inclusion efforts throughout the district. These seminars will help PSB staff with racial inequities inside and outside the classroom setting.

“It is a strict alignment with Dr. Guillory’s district goals [that] are ensuring a high quality education for all of our students, strengthening a culture of care, and eliminating the barriers that so many of our students are facing,” Uttaro said. “[Many staff members] are focusing on specific pieces for the year, whether that’s racial literacy or how to navigate ‘ouch’ moments or culturally responsive pedagogy. We have a number of different streams that they’re working on.”

Guillory said he attributes the success of in-person learning in PSB to the greater community.

“I am indebted to every educator, including homeroom teachers, specialists, special educators, and our school nurses are working so hard to be sure that we were ready to welcome our students back in September,” Guillory said. “Finally, I extend a thanks to all of the support staff, including secretaries, custodians, and food service colleagues who support all of the important work we do.”