State Education Commissioner Jeff Riley is calling for all Massachusetts elementary school students to return to full-time, in-class learning by the end of April.
But that plan doesn't require teachers or staff to be vaccinated in order for students to come back to classrooms. Instead, K-12 teachers will have access to the vaccine in the next step of Phase Two, along with other essential workers.
Speaking on In It Together on Tuesday, Fall River Superintendent Matthew Malone commended Gov. Charlie Baker and other state officials for their efforts to distribute the vaccine and said he agrees that children should be back in classrooms. But, he also said it's a "tragic flaw" not to prioritize teachers and staff in getting vaccinated.
"It's unethical that we didn't prioritize teachers," Malone said. "These are the folks that are doing the work, that make America happen. Because if kids aren't in school, parents aren't on the job. If kids aren't in school, we're falling behind. If kids aren't in school, the world isn't safe. Everything that we do builds our democracy, so we need to prioritze teachers as frontline workers — because we are frontline workers."
The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education still has to approve Riley's proposal next month. Riley said parents would be able to choose to have their children continue with remote learning. Districts would also have a waiver process where they could transition to in-person learning in a more incremental fashion.
We also heard from software developer Olivia Adams, who created the website macovidvaccines.com, which aggregates available vaccine appointments from the state's website and independent vaccine sites like pharmacies and health clinics.
Click on the audio player above to listen to the full episode.
Mathew Malone - 1:59
Olivia Adams - 20:30