CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Teachers Association made an announcement urging the state to close schools on Monday for staff to get COVID-19 tested.

President Merrie Najimy of the Massachusetts Teachers Association released a statement saying:

“After spending yesterday consulting with our Environmental Health & Safety Committee and public health experts, the Massachusetts Teachers Association is calling on state Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley to keep all schools closed on Monday except for staff COVID-19 testing. To protect the public health and the safety of our communities, it is urgent to allow districts to use Jan. 3 for administering COVID-19 tests to school staff and analyzing the resulting data.

Educators and the MTA have long been demanding greater access to COVID-19 tests, leading the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on Wednesday to announce the arrival of 200,000 tests for school staff. But without a strategic plan to make the tests available before this weekend, the ability to ensure safe learning environments for our students and staff by Monday morning is greatly reduced.

We recognize that delaying some students’ return to school poses challenges for families. But if there were a blizzard on Sunday evening, nobody would question the wisdom of declaring Monday a snow day. With the omicron variant spreading and COVID-19 positivity rates in the state surpassing 16 percent in the most recent seven-day average — and with Massachusetts now reporting more than 1 million coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic — it is fair to say that the health and safety risks we face from COVID-19 far surpass those presented by a nor’easter.”

said President Merrie Najimy, Massachusetts Teachers Association

Additionally, President Najimy added that the possible decision of making Monday solely a test day for staff will allow the Massachusetts school districts to develop a contingency plan and decide whether or not students should return to remote learning. The MTA is trying to establish a safe way to return to in-person learning while by overcoming logistical hurdles, to ensure students, families, educational staff, and communities are protected.