Mass. Teachers Association Pushing Back Against ‘Reckless' New State Guidance

"It's reckless. It's more than unnecessary, it's reckless," Merrie Najimy, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, said of the state's new guidance.

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The Massachusetts Teachers Association is pushing back after the education commissioner issued a new state guideline saying teachers must go back into their classrooms even for remote learning.

The new guidance has made an already heated debate even hotter.

"It's reckless. It's more than unnecessary, it's reckless," said Merrie Najimy, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is now calling for teachers and staff -- even in fully remote districts -- to go back into schools to lead remote learning from their classrooms. The new guidelines are to help provide more consistency for students and more reliable resources for teachers, according to Commissioner Jeff Riley. 

Najimy says, "[Riley] is showing through this dictate that he doesn’t actually trust educators in how to do their job."

She also says it’s irresponsible to bring teachers back together, especially in high-risk districts that have decided to go fully remote.

"We have to remember in the buildings educators share office spaces, bathrooms, classrooms… anyone who contracts COVID will take it wherever they go," she said.

Najimy says she’s also worried about teachers spending their workdays in buildings that don’t yet have proper ventilation systems.

"That will undermine all the state has done to keep transmission rates low - we will see a massive surge … if we’re not careful and the buildings just aren’t safe yet," she said.

But Commissioner Riley says having teachers in their classrooms is beneficial to everyone and will provide a small sense of normalcy for students learning from home.

Najimy disagrees.

"He’s quite frankly angry with educators who are predominantly women who have made it crystal clear… We will not put our lives and those of our students in imminent danger by going into the buildings until they are safe," she said.

NBC10 Boston has reached out to Commissioner Riley for comment but has not heard back.

All students in Boston will be learning remotely to start the school year.
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