Mass. teachers’ union criticized Gov. Baker before he ultimately closed schools for remainder of year

BOSTON — UPDATE: Gov. Charlie Baker announced during a news conference on Tuesday that all public and private schools in Massachusetts will remain closed for the rest of the year. Remote learning will continue.

ORIGINAL: The Massachusetts Teachers Association criticized Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday, as they await his decision on whether to reopen schools before summer break or leave them closed until the new school year.

The MTA represents 110,000 teachers, faculty, professional staff and education support professionals working at nearly 400 public schools, colleges and universities across Massachusetts.

As things stand now, schools are set to remain closed through May 4. They have been closed since March 17.

In a statement to the Boston Herald, MTA President Merrie Najimy said, “Baker’s delay in taking action to initially close all schools – and the lack of guidelines early in the process for remote learning – both point to the necessity for clear direction and mutual understanding of everyone’s needs. This is a time for decisive leadership to protect the public health and the common good.”

Baker appeared on Boston 25 News Monday morning, where he said he has been in constant contact with school superintendents, mayors, and town managers.

“I think the main message we’ve been getting from most people is all about safety,” said Baker. “If you can’t come back safely despite the fact that a lot of people would like to see folks back, have a chance to kick the tires on a bunch of issues associated with where the kids are, what they’ve learned, what they might want to do over the summer to prepare for next fall. If you can’t do that safely, we shouldn’t do it. That’s really been the focus of a lot of back and forth, and I know we need to make that decision soon.”

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was also interviewed live on Boston 25 News Monday morning. He said it is unlikely students will return to classrooms before September.

“I have talked to the Governor, and I think in a perfect world we’d love to see school back this year, but I don’t think that’s realistic right now,” said Walsh. “I think we’ll have to be really creative about how we reopen school. We could be potentially in a second surge if we don’t do our work right now.”

Walsh said the focus should be on distance learning for the time being.

“I don’t know if it’s possible we’re going to be able to open school this year, so we have to continue to ramp up even more so our online learning,” he said. “When it comes to school in September, I think we’re going to be looking at a potentially different way of education to keep people safe.”

Baker said he plans to announce his decision in the coming days.

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