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It was disclosed that DESE has no formal process to track or report coronavirus outbreaks in our schools. Massachusetts will not be able to safely return to in-person learning without effective disease testing, tracing, and tracking in our schools.

AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos sent a letter to urge DESE to take steps to ensure that Massachusetts is able to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks when we return to the classroom.


“We’re concerned about the health and safety of our students and our educators, and that’s paramount in our minds. We believe it’s imperative to assess the health of our buildings before we return to the classroom; the ventilation systems must be evaluated and improved. We need the water in our bathrooms to be at 100 degrees at all times; I’m not sure that’s happened at any school I’ve worked at,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “Our families need assurance that these health and safety checks have happened and will be maintained throughout the school year. We’re doing this because we care about the children and the families they go home to.”

“The current plan is backwards. We cannot bring all of our students back in person in September on the first day of school as much as we want to,” said Boston Teachers Union President Jessica Tang. “What we need to do is have a thoughtful approach where we have to get remote learning right…It’s likely there’s going to be another surge, and we cannot just scramble overnight to try to get remote learning right like we did in the spring.”

Let’s call this decision what it is: a racist president doubling down on his failed strategy of denying the realities of the COVID-19 health crisis, and renewing his campaign of hate against immigrants.
ICE’s new guidelines force international students and their colleges into an impossible dilemma. Students will be pushed to choose between risking their health by attending in-person classes or risk being deported to their countries of origin, where they may be unable to continue their education. Others will be forced to disrupt their education by transferring, either to another American college with in-person classes or to a college in another country. Many students will never return, and our country and our communities will miss out on their contributions."

“Protecting the health and safety of our students and their families is our top priority as educators, and DESE’s guidance needs improvement in several critical areas. From expecting students to provide their own masks, to addressing how students will travel to school safely, to recommending only a 3-foot minimum physical distancing requirement, this guidance doesn’t adequately reckon with the realities, or the added costs, of reopening schools in the communities we represent.

“This guidance may work for a few of the wealthiest suburban districts, where families can afford to purchase their own protective equipment, where students are generally driven to school, and where local taxpayers can provide the additional funding required to open safely. But DESE’s guidance discounts the needs of high-poverty districts in our Gateway Cities and Boston, which have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and were already deeply underfunded before this crisis began."


Join us for our Summer Leadership Institute, a series of virtual workshops for local leaders and members to refine their leadership skills as well as to promote participation and initiative in our union!  We will still be socially distancing for much of the summer, but with this institute we aim to come together across the state for conversation and learning. 

We have a range of different classes, including a training on the new Connect 2.0, information about the para to teacher pipeline and increasing power in your local through building representatives. We also have a series on the role of elected leadership in the union presented by our colleagues at AFT national. 

“AFT Massachusetts is proud to celebrate Pride Month and continue our commitment to the ongoing fight for LGBTQ+ rights, in Massachusetts and around the nation,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “As we celebrate Pride Month this year, we are reflecting on the many parallels between the early gay rights movement and the moment we are in today. As we celebrate Pride Month, rally for racial justice, and fight for economic and education justice, we know that our collective fights are intrinsically linked.”
The modern gay rights movement began in June 1969 with the Stonewall Uprising, when Black trans people, gay men, and lesbians protested against police brutality and harassment at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. The Stonewall Uprising led to the first widespread LGBTQ+ organizing in the labor movement. In 1970, the American Federation of Teachers became the first federal labor union to pass a resolution opposing discrimination based on sexual orientation.

AFT Massachusetts is excited to welcome two great new members to our statewide Executive Board! This month, Amrita Dani of the Boston Teachers Union and Patty Myers of the United Teachers of Lowell joined the board, which represents the 23,000 AFT members statewide.

“I’m thrilled that these two great local union leaders will join the AFT Massachusetts Executive Board as we work to ensure that safety and equity are at the forefront of Massachusetts’ plan to reopen schools this fall,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “Their experience engaging members and organizing to protect public education will be critical as we work to ensure our schools have the federal and state funding they need, and as we advocate for our most vulnerable students who are most at risk of falling behind during school closures.”


The AFT Massachusetts has announced our endorsement of Ed Markey for re-election to the United States Senate – the latest labor endorsement for a champion of public education and working people. We encourage all AFT Massachusetts members to cast their vote for Senator Ed Markey on Tuesday, September 1 (Primary Election Day) and Tuesday, November 3 (General Election Day).

“Senator Ed Markey has been a supporter of public education for decades and has consistently fought for adequate funding - not because we asked him to, but because he knows that public education is the pathway to better


AFT Massachusetts stands in solidarity with our Black students, families, educators, and communities in Massachusetts and around the country, and joins them to condemn anti-Black racism and police brutality..

As educators, we must confront racism in our schools, and in our communities, even when the headlines fade. AFT Massachusetts is committed to fighting for antiracist reforms – real, lasting change that transforms not just policing, but our entire society. In the classroom and the community, we must challenge our own internal biases and fight to transform the systems that preserve them.


AFT Massachusetts is proud to represent school and municipal library employees across Massachusetts. This week, we are observing National Library Week (April 19 - 25, 2020), an annual celebration highlighting the valuable role libraries, librarians, and other library employees play in transforming lives and strengthening our communities.

“Librarians and library employees work hard every day to provide critical resources, programs, and expertise to people of all ages, and now is no exception. Today, our public libraries are playing an especially important role in supporting the education of children whose schools are closed,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “I’m constantly amazed by all the hard work happening to ensure that children, seniors, and others who depend on our public libraries are able to access research and learning resources at this time. It’s a great reminder that public libraries are a vital community space for all of us. AFT Massachusetts is excited to recognize the valuable contributions librarians and library workers make every single day.”