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Mass. Teachers Association Demands Racial Equity, COVID Changes in Schools

The Massachusetts Teachers Association is demanding an end to structural racism and the implementation of coronavirus precautions when schools reopen this fall

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The Massachusetts Teachers Association is calling on the state to address institutional racism and implement stringent coronavirus safety measures for staff and students when schools reopen this fall.

A list of demands from the MTA is detailed in their reopening platform, released Thursday, directing the state to provide personal protective equipment and testing for coronavirus and to end the police presence in schools.

In the wake of recent protests across the country against police brutality, the MTA is calling for schools throughout the state to deconstruct what they're calling institutional racism with full funding of the new school finance reform law.

The union wants the state to re-imagine school curriculum so that it is “actively anti-racist to reflect and affirm students of color, their cultures and their histories -- and fight against xenophobia in all of its forms.”

President Merrie Najimy said that, in part, the pandemic and recent protests “have laid bare the consequences of systemic racism for students who historically have been left behind.”

The platform calls for "progressive revenues" to be a part of a reopening process, saying, "Student and staff needs will not be sacrificed due to artificial funding constraints."

The Massachusetts Teachers Association is calling on the state to provide personal protective gear and testing at schools this fall for students and staff in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Additionally, the MTA said educators and students with compromised immune systems and those statistically more likely to contract the coronavirus, such as older educators, should be provided with alternative ways to work and medical leave.

Educators, parents and students still await fall reopening guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

"We also can only return if we know that we as a Commonwealth are using the frightening upheaval of this moment to think critically and collectively about the goals we have for our public schools and what it means to keep our students safe," the union said in a statement. "Now more than ever, we must transform public education and recapture our central mission — educating the whole child and cultivating thinking, caring and creative adults who are ready to protect rights and liberties in a democratic society."

The union's demands come as business shutdowns associated with the pandemic have battered the economy. Experts are projecting the state revenue collections will fall billions below original projections. In anticipation of lower local aid levels and possible spending cuts, some school districts have been issuing layoff notices.

State House News Service contributed to this report.

State House News Service
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