The MTA released the following statement by association President Merrie Najimy today after education officials announced a new voluntary COVID-19 surveillance testing program for schools:
After months of unionized educators calling for frequent surveillance testing for COVID-19 in our schools, it is excellent news that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is finally setting up a program for all districts that want it. This is a tremendous victory for educators and families across the state.
We will support rapid implementation of this voluntary program in all school districts. We are heartened that federal COVID-19 relief funds going to public school districts will be available to continue the testing after state funding runs out.
While surveillance testing is very important, it is not a magic solution that will by itself make our schools safe. Other health and safety conditions that must be met include:
- Low school and community COVID-19 transmission rates.
- Adequate school ventilation systems.
- Continued requirements for mask-wearing and six feet of physical distancing.
- An onsite program for vaccinating education staff as soon as possible.
Most of all, transparency in the data, regular communication and honoring agreements made with educators’ unions will ultimately engender the trust that educators and families need to feel that it is safe to return to in-person learning.