Thirty-five legislators are calling upon the Baker administration to prioritize low-income schools for vaccines and pool testing in order to ensure the quickest return to in-person learning in communities that need it most.
While remote learning has changed life for every student and family, it is evident that the consequences and negative effects are disproportionately felt in low-income districts.
Led by Rep. Andy X. Vargas (D-Haverhill) and Sen. Adam Gomez (D-Springfield), the 35 legislators signed a letter to Governor Baker, Secretary Sudders, and Secretary Peyser, asking for “a deliberate prioritization in the application and marketing of both pool testing and vaccine deployment” in low-income school districts.
“With vaccines for all K-12 staff on the horizon and the recent announcement of pool testing resources available, we hope the administration can prioritize low-income school districts first. Several studies and evidence from our constituents have shown how challenging remote learning has been for low-income schools and families,” said Representative Vargas.
“There is no question that lower income communities have been hit the hardest since the pandemic began,” said Senator Gomez. “This letter makes clear, through the support of my colleagues, that the Administration should prioritize the needs of low-income school districts for vaccines and pool testing, particularly in communities where COVID-19 cases are at their highest.”
“Communities like Chelsea and Revere have been some of the hardest-hit during the COVID pandemic, and many families have made clear that remote learning is not the preferred method of education for their children,” said Representative Jessica Ann Giannino. “Some children in the Sixteenth Suffolk District do not have access to internet in their homes, and many parents are faced with the challenge of either going to work to provide for their family or staying home to be present with their children because they do not have anyone to watch their kids during what would be a normal school day – a choice no parent should be faced with having to make. Remote learning has served its purpose, but we need to work efficiently to get our children back into the classroom in a way in which is safe for all – students, faculty and staff. I am proud that one of the first letters I am signing onto as our communities’ State Representative is to ask the Baker administration to prioritize vaccine and pool testing for school districts like Chelsea and Revere to ensure our children can be back in-person as soon as possible.”
The Baker administration has placed K-12 workers in Phase 2 of the vaccine deployment plan, but it has not specified which K-12 schools would come first. Additionally, the administration announced pool testing resources last week and funding available on a first come first serve basis. Legislators would like to see both offered and deployed in low-income districts first.