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AFT Massachusetts Statement on School Reopening Guidance

AFT Massachusetts released the following statement from AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos regarding the “Initial Fall School Reopening Guidance” released by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education today:

“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. Our students are much more likely to take the bus or public transportation to school, to live with high-risk elderly family members, and to attend schools with crowded classrooms. And our schools need additional state funding in order to implement the guidance and reopen safely while providing students with the high-quality education they need to recover from months of learning loss.

“We know that the massive disruption brought on by the pandemic and resulting school closures is hurting our students – especially those who were already being harmed by the deep inequities in our education system. But opening schools without the proper safety measures, and the funding required to implement them, will only contribute to a resurgence of the virus in the same high-poverty communities that have already been affected the most. Students, families, and educators need our state leaders to acknowledge the additional challenges that reopening schools in high-poverty districts presents, and we need them to rise to meet those challenges with adequate funding. That starts with fully funding the Student Opportunity Act on the promised schedule.”

Read the DESE press release and guidance here:…/press-release-dese-releases-initial-ba…

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