The following statement was issued today by MTA President Merrie Najimy:
The federal government’s decision to grant school employees priority access to COVID-19 vaccines is a tremendous victory for students, educators and our communities.
Educators working through their unions and with our allies, including many parents, have been tireless in their advocacy to have Governor Charlie Baker acknowledge the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s classification of school employees as essential workers and begin the vaccination program now. President Biden heeded the call that our own governor, until today, did not or would not listen to.
Expediting school employees’ access to vaccines will protect the thousands of school employees already on the front lines, working with students in person. This is a big step toward protecting the thousands more who will be returning to in-person learning. We know this is what is best for students when it can be done safely.
Educators’ unions have been advocating for a full year to win the package of CDC measures that will keep our entire school community safe so that we can be in person with our students, as we’ve wanted to be from the start. Access to vaccinations — along with regular in-school COVID-19 testing and the rigorous implementation of all of the CDC guidelines — will allow us to move forward.
Although Governor Baker has long been resistant to prioritizing educators for vaccine access, we hope that now he will work cooperatively with the federal government — as well as with the unions that represent school employees — to ensure the equitable, efficient and effective delivery of vaccines. We also reiterate our call on the Baker administration to prioritize higher education employees, especially those already working in person, for immediate vaccine access.
It took a village to make today’s actions happen. Educators, through their unions, made the case — and state legislators and other public education advocates added their voices. The members of the Massachusetts Teachers Association want to thank President Biden, Massachusetts Speaker of the House Ronald Mariano and Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka, all of whom have shown critical leadership in this moment.
While details on how vaccines will be delivered to educators are still unfolding, the MTA and other unions continue to support a plan we developed with firefighters and nurses to vaccinate educators on site at schools in communities where COVID-19 transmission remains high. Local access is important, and it will help ensure that all communities, including communities of color, will receive fair treatment as this process rolls out.
This is a big day for all of us who devote our lives to students and public education. We look forward to ensuring that the vaccination program moves ahead and succeeds, as it is vital to the goal of fully resuming in-person learning throughout our Commonwealth.
A 'Joyful Day" for Educators
It took a village to make today’s actions happen. Educators, through their unions, made the case — and state legislators and other public education advocates added their voices.