The Massachusetts Teachers Association is pushing for a fully remote start to the school year. Officials in the state's largest teachers union said September is too soon for a safe return to in-person learning.
Among the chief concerns are basic health and safety standards and widespread testing.
"Educators are longing to be back with their students, but we are hearing more and more, day after day, how frightened educators and families are to go back in the buildings," said MTA president Merrie Najimy. "We don't have safe buildings. We don't have testing. And we don't have benchmarks to tie reopening to."
In a virtual statewide membership meeting Wednesday night that drew over 10,000 participants, the association asked local unions to vote on a resolution that supports a 100% remote teaching model to start the school year. About 40 local unions have already done that and roughly 80% of the teachers association members support a fully remote start in fall, according to a poll conducted during the meeting.
Other local unions will be voting on the resolution next week. After that, members will be working to convince their local school committees to adopt reopening plans that address their concerns.
“Middle-class and affluent communities will be better suited to meet necessary health and safety benchmarks,” said MTA officials in a written statement. “Until the point when districts and the state can meet these criteria, we will refuse to return to unsafe school buildings.”
Earlier this week, the state and three largest teachers unions reached an agreement to allow districts to begin classroom instructions up to 10 days late, in order to allow for additional professional development and preparation.
State education leaders encouraged schools to bring back as many students as possible this year. Districts have to submit preliminary plans for three reopening scenarios to the state by Friday, with final plans due by August 10.