‘Lives in jeopardy’: President of Mass. teachers’ union criticizes state’s plan to reopen schools

BOSTON (WHDH) - The president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association expressed her frustrations regarding the state’s plan for reopening schools in the fall.

“There’s a fundamental lack of honesty here. The state is pretending that minor modifications to systems will allow us to reopen the buildings,” President Merrie Najimy said. “Let me just be very blunt. The benefits of returning in person are limited and the risks are as great the possibility of either causing a resurgence in the pandemic and putting people’s lives in jeopardy.”

Following a Wednesday virtual meeting with State Education Commissioner Jeff Riley, and the heads of other teachers’ unions, Merrie Najimy said the state is unwilling to fully fund the necessary procedures to transform the schools.

“There are some schools that don’t have HVAC, proper circulation,” she said. “Some classrooms that don’t even have windows.”

Najimy also criticized the state’s plan for school buses.

“I don’t know if the commissioner has ever ridden a bus to understand the chaos that goes on in the bus,” she noted.

In Somerville, there are more reservations about the state’s school reopening plan.

The state has issued guidelines that form a good starting point but that fall short of our needs,” Mayor Joseph Curtatone said.

Somerville officials said that with their city’s dense population, they will have to go above and beyond the state’s guidelines to keep everyone safe.

“Right now we’re looking at two different types of Hybrids. One would be a week on, week off, and one is what we call cohort A cohort B, where students would come say on Monday Tuesday, and then everyone would be full remote on Wednesday and then kids would come on Thursday Friday,” Somerville Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper explained.

Skipper said regardless of what plan they choose to follow, all students as young as preschool will be required to wear face masks.

 

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