Gov. Charlie Baker used his Thursday afternoon press conference to drive down on his message to local school districts that they should reopen schools and begin in-person learning as soon as it's safe to do so.
At the close of the press conference, Baker delivered a scathing rebuke of President Donald Trump for failing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the November election.
The thrust of Baker's message to local school officials is that the town-by-town map his administration maintains, which lists the local COVID-19 transmission threat, should be used to determine whether it's safe to let children and teachers back into the classroom. If communities shown as "green" on the map drag their feet with plans to return in person, Baker and his K-12 education commissioner Riley want to know why.
"In-person learning, especially for young kids, is a critical part of their educational and social development. We want to know what your plan is to get back," Baker said.
Riley sent a letter to 16 districts earlier this month inquiring why they hadn't yet provided a plan for returning students to the classroom and suggested the state could audit the districts that don't flesh out their plan to the satisfaction of state officials. Some local officials found the letter troublesome or even an example of bullying by the state.
"I don't think that's bullying. I think it's a perfectly appropriate question to ask on behalf of the people of those communities and especially the kids," Baker said.
When asked about Trump's comment at his White House press conference Wednesday where the president stated, "We’re going to have to see what happens," when asked if he'd commit to a peaceful transfer of power, Baker didn't hold back.
"It is appalling and outrageous that anyone would suggest for a minute that if they lose an election they're not going to leave," Baker said, without using Trump's name.
Baker harkened back to President Abraham Lincoln's 1860 victory and the duty of electors to finalize that transition of power on the eve of the American Civil War.
"A huge part of this nation's glory, to the extent it exists as a beacon to others, is the peaceful transfer of power based on the vote of the people of this country," Baker said.