Rep. Vargas, Other Legislators Call on State to Schedule Low-Income School Districts First for Vaccines

Rep. Andy X. Vargas. (Jay Saulnier file photograph for WHAV News.)

Correction: An earlier headline on this story suggested the letter urged children be vaccinated, but the proposal is only for staff of low-income school districts.

Thirty-five legislators, including most local state representatives, are calling upon the Baker administration to move low-income schools to the front of the line for vaccines and pool testing.

Led by Rep. Andy X. Vargas of Haverhill) and Sen. Adam Gomez of Springfield sent the request to Baker, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders and Education Secretary Peyser, saying it would “ensure the quickest return to in-person learning in communities that need it most.” Vargas said consequences and negative effects of remote learning are disproportionately felt in low-income 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 Vargas.

Area representatives also signing the letter were Linda Dean Campbell, Christina Minicucci, Frank Moran and Marcos Devers.

The legislators said the Baker administration 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. The legislators said they would like to see both offered and deployed in low-income districts first.

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