BOSTON (WHDH) - The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education says they will not close schools Monday despite the call to action from the Massachusetts Teachers Association requesting that Monday be used for staff COVID-19 testing.
MTA President Merrie Najimy released a statement Friday calling on state Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley to keep all schools closed on Monday.
“To protect the public health and the safety of our communities, it is urgent to allow districts to use Jan. 3 for administering COVID-19 tests to school staff and analyzing the resulting data,” she wrote.
A DESE spokesperson released a statement in turn saying that Riley will not close schools Monday.
“The commissioner is not going to close schools Monday, and asks teachers to be patient as we work to get tests in their hands this weekend,” the statement read. “It is disappointing that once again the MTA is trying to find a way to close schools, which we know is to the extreme detriment of our children.”
A DESE spokesperson released a statement Friday saying that Riley will not close schools Monday.
DESE announced Wednesday that 200,000 rapid at-home COVID-19 tests would be distributed for school staff; however, this distribution has been delayed due to supply chain restraints.
“The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education worked hard this week to make at-home rapid tests available to all public school teachers and staff in light of the testing shortages being experienced around the country,” the DESE statement continued. “Massachusetts is one of only a handful of states supplying rapid tests to its teachers. It is a not a requirement for teachers to return to work, or necessary to reopen schools after the holiday break.”
Najimy had wrote in her statement that “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 greatly reduced.”
She continued that using Monday as a day for testing and analyzing data would allow for the school districts to make the appropriate decisions around staffing needs so they can continue in-person learning for students if it is safe or develop contingency plans if necessary.
“We recognize that delaying some students’ return to school poses challenges for families,” Najimy wrote. “But if there were a blizzard on Sunday evening, nobody would question the wisdom of declaring Monday a snow day.”
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