The teachers’ association asks that the mass schools remain closed on Monday

The Massachusetts Teachers Association called on State Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley to keep schools closed – except for COVID-19 staff testing – on Monday, as most students reportedly return after vacation from school. winter.

“To protect the public health and safety of our communities, there is an urgent need to allow districts to use January 3 to administer COVID-19 tests to school staff and analyze the resulting data,” said the president of MTA, Merrie Najimy, in a statement released Friday. Morning.

The call for the shutdown comes after the state announced Thursday that 200,000 test kits for teachers and staff in public schools across the state would be delayed.

The tests were reportedly administered this weekend before classes resumed on Monday.

“Without a strategic plan to make testing available before this weekend, the ability to ensure safe learning environments for our students and staff by Monday morning is dramatically reduced,” said Najimy.

At least two districts, Lexington and Burlington, have already chosen to cancel school on Monday due to the test kit delay.

Below is the full statement from Massachusetts Teachers Association President Merrie Najimy:

“After spending yesterday consulting with our environmental health and safety committee and public health experts, the Massachusetts Teachers Association is calling on the state education commissioner, Jeffrey Riley, to keep all schools closed Monday, to except for COVID-19 staff testing. To protect the public health and safety of our communities, there is an urgent need to allow districts to use January 3 to administer COVID-19 tests to school staff and analyze the resulting data.

Educators and the MTA have long called for better access to COVID-19 tests, which led the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to announce on Wednesday the arrival of 200,000 tests for school staff. But without a strategic plan to make testing available before this weekend, the ability to ensure safe learning environments for our students and staff by Monday morning is dramatically reduced.

We recognize that delaying the return to school of some students poses problems for families. But if there was a blizzard on Sunday night, no one would question the wisdom of declaring Monday a snowy day. With the omicron variant spreading and COVID-19 positivity rates in the state exceeding 16% on the most recent seven-day average – and with Massachusetts now reporting more than one million cases of coronavirus since start of the pandemic – it’s fair to say that the health and safety risks we face from COVID-19 far outweigh those presented by a Northeast.

Using Monday as the day for testing and analyzing data will allow our school districts to make prudent decisions about staffing needs so they can continue in-person learning for students if it is safe or develop plans for it. emergency if a district deems it necessary. It will also make it more likely that school staff already preparing to return to work on January 3 will be more readily available for testing, thereby overcoming the logistical hurdles posed by the Baker administration’s failure to properly plan the process. .

The MTA is committed to ensuring that in-person learning continues as long as it is safe – and that students, school staff, families and communities are protected as the New Year begins. “


Colleen Cronin can be reached at [email protected]

Andrew B. Reiter