The following statement was released today by MTA President Merrie Najimy in response to the number of COVID-19 cases reported in Massachusetts public schools:
It is both troubling and frustrating to see that nearly 100 students and school staff members participating in hybrid and in-person models of learning across the state have tested positive for COVID-19 in a single week of reporting. The Massachusetts Teachers Association has been warning about a rise in cases as a result of Governor Charlie Baker’s and state Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley’s reckless drive to push people back into school buildings too soon. With this new data, we worry that these concerns are being realized.
Baker and Riley have been pressuring districts into using as much in-person learning as possible, rather than supporting educators in delivering a robust remote-learning model that meets students’ academic, social and emotional needs. Baker and Riley have made it impossible to provide students, families and educators with a uniform, safe approach to reopening schools – and they are contributing to the chaos resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Baker and Riley have made it impossible to provide students, families and educators with a uniform, safe approach to reopening schools – and they are contributing to the chaos resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
It is destabilizing for children to have to experience erratic openings and closings of their schools. Educators have been working to prevent students from suffering the consequences of COVID-19 and the trauma of witnessing the impact of the virus on others, especially those they are close to.
The 63 students and 34 educators testing positive for COVID-19 in just one week are part of the spike in cases we see occurring across Massachusetts, with the numbers changing from 367 new cases at the start of the week to more than 700 a few days later.
While nothing can replace in-person learning in normal times, reopening schools too soon and too quickly puts the people of the Commonwealth on a collision course with the coronavirus. The hard work to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is in danger of being undone, and our biggest fear is that the lack of support from the state for safe and sensible school reopening strategies will further delay our ability to resume full in-person learning.