Mass. Rejects Teacher Union’s Request to Close Schools for COVID-19 Testing

Officials in Massachusetts rejected a push on Friday by the state’s most prominent teacher’s union to keep public schools closed for staff member COVID-19 testing, according to The Associated Press.

Students and staff are scheduled to return as initially planned after the holiday break on Monday.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) directed the request to Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley. The union represents around 110,000 teachers, faculty, professional staff and education support professionals at public schools, colleges and universities in the state.

“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,” MTA President Merrie Najimy said in a statement.

“Making Monday a COVID-19 test day will help school districts make more informed staffing decisions and ensure that in-person learning continues,” she added.

A spokesperson for the state Executive Office of Education rejected the idea.

“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,” Colleen Quinn said in a statement. “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.”

This week, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced that it had purchased 200,000 COVID-19 rapid tests for on-site faculty and staff testing.

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