News from AFT Massachusetts and President Beth Kontos - August 2021

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A Message from Beth Kontos

Returning to our classrooms has always created excitement for students and educators alike.  Beginning another school year with COVID-19 in our lives does heighten our anxiety as we prepare to enter our classrooms.  But this year vaccines are available for everyone age 12 and older and the Pfizer vaccine has full FDA approval.  Our school staff have had ample time to "arm themselves" with the vaccine, everyone entering preK-12 schools must be masked, and many of our districts have made significant progress on updating HVAC systems.  To increase knowledge and accessibility to the vaccines, many of our locals are holding Back-to-School events offering vaccines to all who are eligible.  The fairs will continue through September with books, school supplies, and fun for all students and their families.  I wish you all a wonderful school year.

AFT Massachusetts Responds to DESE Vote to Authorize Indoor Mask Mandate

 
 

Statement from AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos in response to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education's vote to grant Education Commissioner Jeff Riley authority to issue a statewide indoor mask mandate for K-12 schools:

"The Commissioner's decision to require universal masking in schools when they reopen this fall is an important step to protect the health and safety of students, as well as their educators and families. While we remain concerned about the current plan to relax masking requirements for some students as soon as October 1, beginning the school year with universal masking will help maximize our ability to maintain safe, in-person learning for all students.

"We hope this long overdue move will be followed by a similar requirement for air quality and HVAC standards to prevent the airborne spread of the virus in aging school buildings. We also continue to advocate for improvements to the state's quarantine procedures, which currently exempt vaccinated students and staff from quarantine despite emerging evidence that they can still acquire and transmit the virus. With these steps, as well as continued state funding of diagnostic and pooled COVID-19 testing and in-school vaccination clinics for students and staff, we can accomplish our shared goal of keeping schools open this year for safe and productive in-person learning."

#AFTVoices Member Spotlight Series

#AFTVoices aims to uplift the voices, members and educators that make up AFT Massachusetts. This month we're highlighting Lori Horsman, educator and AFT member representing the Lynn Teachers Union!

For nearly a decade, Lori has been an educator, striving to impact the lives of her peers, community and students. "I want to be in the fray and change predicted outcomes for the students. If I am making a difference in the classroom, I'm doing my job."

Stay tuned as we continue to display more of our conversations with other AFT members, showing how we collectively strive to build an industry where we all have the #FreedomToThrive! Click here if you would like to be part of our campaign!

Setting the Record Straight

The AFT is setting the record straight on dangerous misinformation campaigns fueling skepticism and hesitance around the COVID-19 vaccines.

Dangerous misinformation campaigns are fueling skepticism and hesitance around the COVID-19 vaccines, a situation that both prevents achievement of herd immunity and increases the possibility that new variants will be deadly to even the vaccinated. The truth is that 99.5 percent of all COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths happening now are among the unvaccinated. As vaccination numbers lag and COVID-19 infections surge in many communities, it is imperative that AFT members have the most accurate and up-to-date information about the vaccines. The "COVID-19 Myth-busting Factsheet" was composed by the AFT and is intended to set the record straight about some myths and misconceptions.  READ MORE.

Take the Fair Share Amendment Vote Pledge

The top 1% make their first $1 million without additional tax, after that we're asking for 4 cents on their millionth and one dollar and so on. This would raise a substantial amount of NEW revenue annually to be re-invested into our public education system and transportation infrastructure. Right now, the Massachusetts economy is working great for those at the top. But it’s time to invest in our public infrastructure, schools, and communities, so that working families across MA can receive the support and benefits they deserve. EVERYONE must pay their fair share in taxes. We must pass the Fair Share Amendment and invest in the Commonwealth.

Do you plan to vote YES to pass the Fair Share Amendment on the ballot in 2022? Sign our pledge to become an official Fair Share Amendment Voter!

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program Is Available for AFT Members With Student Debt

The AFT has been working to address the student debt crisis for nearly a decade. The union has counseled thousands of members at our student debt clinics, provided a free benefit to union members that will save them an estimated $500 million, taken student loan giants like Navient to court, and sued the Trump administration to protect borrowers.

“Income-driven repayment plans are used by many student loan borrowers to reduce their regular monthly payments, often by hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year,” says Matt, who previously worked as a Technology Librarian in Wayland, Massachusetts. “Many people who work in public service are also eligible to have all or most of their debt forgiven through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which began in 2007 as way of incentivizing people to work in government and nonprofit public service. It was a way to get people to go into public service careers with salaries that might not support the amount of debt needed to obtain the educational credentials that those careers required.” READ MORE.

Click here to register for our October 19th Student Debt Clinic for AFT Members!

Discount for AFT Members

As AFT members, the New England Revolution would like to thank you for all that you do by offering a discount on Revs tickets! You are able to use this discount for various seat locations to any of our remaining 2021 regular season home games! Click here and buy a ticket today!