Alliance Calls for In-School Shots, Citing Relatively Low Vaccination Rates in Haverhill and Lawrence

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Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance, citing relatively low vaccination rates in Haverhill and Lawrence, as compared with wealthier communities, called on Gov. Charlie Baker Wednesday to take immediate action to protect students, families and educators.

The Alliance called for the governor to take a three-pronged approach to fully protect students and families across the state. They said the plan must include a comprehensive, state-run and in-school vaccination program for every school with a vaccination rate under the statewide average of 75%, state sponsored distribution of high-quality masks for every school district that requests them and a state coordinated, state-financed and transparent testing program for every school district.

“If the state has the power to require children to attend school in the midst of a runaway pandemic, the state has an obligation to provide adequate protection for students in every district,” said Lisa Guisbond, executive director of Citizens for Public Schools and chair of MEJA’s board of directors. “A comprehensive in-school COVID response in advance of the next surge of the virus is long overdue.”

The group said school-aged children in Gateway Cities across the Commonwealth are at particular risk, noting these are “communities where alarmingly low vaccination rates put children in harm’s way. Some of our poorest communities have vaccination rates in the single digits for the youngest and most vulnerable students.”

“As a parent and an educator, I continue to have grave concerns about my child’s safety at school and the overall health of our community,” said Cara Berg Powers, a parent from Worcester and guest Lecturer at Clark University. “I feel safe teaching in person because University leadership has ensured that nearly everyone on campus is vaccinated on top of providing free COVID testing with contact tracing on a weekly basis and implementing a strong indoor mask mandate – providing free high-quality masks to any campus members that need them. My child and her educators deserve the same level of protection. Our whole community is less safe because of the state’s failed leadership.”

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