The following statement was issued today by Massachusetts Teachers Association President Merrie Najimy:
The Massachusetts Teachers Association continues to fully support the safe return to in-person learning in our schools — and the guidance issued today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concerning indoor masking advances that goal.
The CDC guidance, following a similar recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics, makes clear that the safest way to implement in-person learning and to keep students, educators and communities healthy and safe is to have all students and staff wear face masks regardless of vaccination status.
With the highly contagious delta variant and the surge of COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth and around the nation, we must all do our part to protect each other and, in particular, children under the age of 12 and residents in the hardest-hit communities. In Massachusetts, communities of color remain the most at risk from COVID-19 and stand to be the most harmed if we do not implement these guidelines.
Masking is one measure among a number of strategies that we need to be mindful of in our ongoing efforts to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control.
Governor Charlie Baker’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must take part beginning now in conversations with stakeholders — from educators’ unions to parents and community groups — about the range of actions needed to keep schools open and all members of our school communities safe. Continued focus must be placed on indoor air quality in school buildings, physical distancing, access to hygiene practices, COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, as well as mask wearing.
To ensure a safe return to full in-person learning this fall, we call on state and local leaders to adopt the CDC’s recommendations without delay, to continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on our communities, and to respond forcefully and prudently.
While local decision-making remains vital as we adapt to the alarming resurgence of the coronavirus, one thing is clear: No one in Massachusetts can afford further obfuscation or delay if we are to succeed in the common objectives that we all should share — getting students and educators together in their classrooms, keeping our schools open, and keeping our communities safe.