MTA: “Premature” to call for end to school restrictions

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (SHNS) – The Massachusetts Teachers Association wants to see “more safeguards” built into Baker administration school guidance and vaccination practices, the union said Friday.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on Thursday evening circulated new guidance saying that it will lift all its health and safety requirements for the start of the 2021-2022 school year, when all schools will be required to hold classes in-person full-time.

“The vast majority of students learn better when they are taught in person. Educators’ unions and our allies have advocated for and won significant public health measures that make in-person learning as safe as possible,” MTA President Merrie Najimy said in a statement. “With that said, the Baker administration must recognize that the pandemic is not over and that there are many variables to keep an eye on throughout the summer and into the fall. Therefore, it is premature to jump to decisions to drop all of the mitigation strategies that have proven to be effective.”

The union supports recommendations including masking and distancing for young children who are not currently eligible for vaccines, improving vaccination rates for hard-hit communities, requiring adequate ventilation in schools and continuing rapid COVID-19 testing in schools.

“With these measures in place, we believe that educators and students can teach and learn in our school buildings safely in the fall — unless variants lead to a surge in cases,” Najimy said. “The state must be willing to make changes as needed so that we can continue to save lives and make progress against this deadly virus.”

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