BOSTON (WWLP) – On Thursday morning the Massachusetts Teacher Association’s President Merri Najimy released a statement regarding the response to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases within the state.

Najimy expressed great concern when it comes to the way that the Omicron Variant has been spreading throughout the state.

“It demands that the state take a more systematic, inclusive and comprehensive approach to protecting public health. The last-minute scramble by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to provide 200,000 test kits to educators is anything but that, jeopardizing our attempts to maintain safe in-person learning as schools reopen after the holiday break” said Najimy.

Najimy expresses frustration and believes that the Baker administration is not communicating with schools, and criticizes their approach towards the distribution of testing. “Plans for testing of this magnitude should have been communicated well in advance of schools closing for the winter break” said Najimy. Additionally, they add that the administration is placing a ‘logistical nightmare’ on school staff, specifically on school nurses who are “already stretched beyond their capacity,” said Najimy.

Najimy believes that school districts will not have enough time to “develop a contingency plan if there is a local outbreak”, which in turn could “be particularly problematic in cities that serve many students of color — communities that continue to be the hardest hit by the pandemic.”

The President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association emphasizes that in order to be successful the Baker administration must “immediately create a much broader distribution mechanism and provide the proper staffing to ensure that the tests are being used.”

Najimy urges “a comprehensive plan — meaning consideration must be given to staffing and distribution — around ongoing access to testing for students, school staff and others who routinely have reason to be in public schools and thus pose a transmission risk.”