The state's largest teachers union is pushing for students to start the school year learning from home, citing safety concerns particularly regarding communities of color amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"The districts and the state must demonstrate that health and safety conditions and negotiated public health benchmarks are met before buildings reopen," the Massachusetts Teachers Association said in a statement.
"Until the point when districts and the state can meet these criteria, we will refuse to return to unsafe school buildings."
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The union said communities' ability to fully prepare for in-person learning differed widely depending on the racial and economic background of constituents.
"The legacy of structural racism through community disinvestment has left Black, Latinx and Indigenous students, educators and communities with higher risk factors and worse outcomes, all while depriving them of resources to meet these standards," the statement said.
"Middle-class and affluent communities will be better suited to meet necessary health and safety benchmarks."
The development comes after the teachers union won its push for a 10-day extension for school districts at the start of the year to allow educators more time to prepare plans for operating with coronavirus-safe policies in place.
Teachers unions and state officials signed a memorandum of understanding Monday that shortens the upcoming school year by reducing state requirements from 180 to 170 days of learning. The agreement requires, however, that schools start their academic years no later than September 16.
Meanwhile, an increasing number of school districts have indicated that a full-force reopening in the fall may not be in the cards. School officials in Northbridge, Massachusetts, are pushing for students to begin the school year outside the classroom.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has said that a full-scale return isn't doable, but that schools have to open, "at some point," whatever that date may be.
School nurses in Boston have also said that they don't feel safe starting in-class instruction and gathered outside Boston City Hall Wednesday for a rally to raise their concerns.