BOSTON (AP) – Massachusetts ‘largest teachers’ union on Friday called on the education commissioner to keep public schools closed on Monday, as most students were scheduled to return to class after the holidays, so that members of the staff can come and be tested for COVID -19.
The request was made with input from the Massachusetts Teachers Association’s environmental health and safety committee and public health experts, union president Merrie Najimy said in a statement.
“To protect the public health and safety of our communities, it is urgent to authorize districts to use January 3 to administer COVID-19 tests to school staff and analyze the resulting data,” she said. declared.
An email requesting a response was left with a spokesperson for Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley.
The State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced this week that it has purchased 200,000 COVID-19 rapid tests that will be distributed statewide for testing of faculty and staff.
“But without a strategic plan to make the tests available before this weekend, the ability to ensure safe learning environments for our students and staff by Monday morning is drastically reduced,” said Najimy.
While acknowledging that delaying the start of the school year by a day would cause problems for some families, Najimy said there would be no hesitation in closing schools if there was a blizzard on Sunday night.
“With the omicron variant spreading and COVID-19 positivity rates in the state exceeding 16% in the most recent seven-day average – and with Massachusetts now reporting over a million cases of coronavirus since the onset of the pandemic – it’s fair to say that the health and safety risks we face from COVID-19 far exceed those presented by a northeast, ”she said.
Making Monday a COVID-19 test day will help school districts make more informed staffing decisions and ensure in-person learning continues, she said.
The union represents approximately 110,000 teachers, professors, professional staff and educational support professionals in public schools, colleges and universities.