The following statement was issued today by MTA President Merrie Najimy:
The MTA welcomes today’s decision by Governor Charlie Baker, Education Secretary James Peyser and Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley to join educators, parents, and unions in calling for a masking requirement for students and employees in our preK-12 schools.
As we have been saying for many months now, our top priority is to get our schools open safely and keep them open for full in-person learning.
We urge the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to unanimously support Commissioner Riley’s request when it is presented on Tuesday. We will have more to say after the board takes its vote.
But based on science and the views of public health experts, we know that a mask requirement will help protect all Massachusetts students, families, and educators. Moreover, it will help ensure the safety of communities of color, which have endured structural racism and have been the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MTA is committed to continuing to lead in protecting the common good, and we still believe that additional steps must be taken.
We will continue to call for required vaccinations for all school employees and eligible students, as well as weekly reporting on COVID-19 cases, particularly those involving young people. And in accord with recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics, we believe that the state, school districts and campuses must guarantee the following:
- Upgraded ventilation systems that meet health and safety standards.
- Access to appropriate face coverings for all students and staff.
- Rapid and consistent access to COVID-19 testing for all students and education staff.
- Appropriate physical distancing in education settings.