By forcing the reopening of schools without a feasible public plan to ensure the safety of staff, educators, and students, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and Governor Baker have once again sidestepped their responsibility to responsibly ensure safety — as they have throughout this pandemic — and school districts and families have and will continue to pay the price. To add insult to injury, this decision comes as educators, staff, and their allies scramble for necessary vaccinations which are too few in number to ensure broad access before the administration’s proposed return to school date.
As a mom of two middle schoolers, I, like all parents and guardians, worry about learning loss and creeping social isolation. But I also worry about top-down decisions forced upon districts which themselves have been unevenly and inequitably prepared to meet this crisis. I worry about the chaos this decision has caused as it subverts the work of many school committees and districts that have been forging and rolling out their own painstaking plans to re-open.
Governor Baker and DESE should issue a safe return to school plan, attending to CDC guidelines, detailing the prioritization of funding and necessary support for districts and students now facing a major transition. Absent this, I will continue to believe that they’re willing to force the burdens of this time (busing, school building health, access to PPE, class sizes, and more) on to the backs of our communities with no real understanding themselves of how to resume in-person learning in a time of COVID.