Governor Charlie Baker and Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley should go back to the drawing board.
We need every MTA member to take action now to urge the Baker administration to work with the MTA, the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts and the Boston Teachers Union on a thorough and coordinated rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Governor Charlie Baker and his public education and public health officials are delaying the safe return to public schools and colleges by arbitrarily changing the priority of educators when it comes to making the vaccines available. On Jan. 25, without consulting the MTA or other educators’ unions, Baker delayed by several weeks or more the availability of vaccines to educators by changing the priority list.
Furthermore, higher education employees are not in Phase 2 along with preK-12 educators for receiving the vaccine and rather are in Phase 3 of the rollout. Massachusetts must join the thirty-two other states that have prioritized all educators together – from preK through higher education.
The Baker administration has failed to include some of the state’s most trusted and respected community members – Massachusetts educators – in any of the planning for vaccine distribution. With our participation, Massachusetts can meet the needs of both the individuals who are at high risk from the coronavirus and the students, educators and families hoping for a safe return to public schools and colleges.
More than 1,600 MTA members have already sent messages to state officials asking that higher education employees be prioritized for the vaccine at the same time that preK-12 educators are. But we must amplify the importance of the state working with the MTA and other unions in making the vaccine rollout efficient, fair and equitable.