The Massachusetts Teachers Association has been active since the COVID-19 shutdown — surveying members, holding meetings and issuing guidelines and policies. The state union hasn’t been shy about providing bargaining instructions to local affiliates, some of which go beyond the standard problems associated with reopening.
Last week the MTA board of directors approved a policy statement, which it then sent to all locals, asking for them to hold a vote to endorse the statement. Here it is, in full:
Educators across Massachusetts miss their students and are eager to resume learning in person – as that is how education is supposed to be. Our greatest collective obligations, however, are to keep students, educators, families and communities out of harm’s way and to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 in our communities and across the state. Therefore, the districts and the state must demonstrate that health and safety conditions and negotiated public health benchmarks are met before buildings reopen.
The different abilities of communities to meet these standards reflect the profound inequality of our society by class and race. 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. Middle-class and affluent communities will be better suited to meet necessary health and safety benchmarks.