BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts Teachers Association president Merrie Najimy slammed the state’s plan to bring all elementary school students back to classrooms for in-person learning by April, saying the focus should instead be on vaccinating educators.

Jeffrey Riley, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said at a Department of Education meeting Tuesday that the state aims to take hybrid and remote learning options “off the table” for districts since COVID numbers are improving.

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Parents would have the option for their children to learn remotely through the end of the year.

Najimy told WBZ-TV that the state is “implementing unilateral authority” with the decision.

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“Vaccination of educators is not in sight. There’s no mention of ventilations need to still be fixed,” she said. “To have full in-person learning contradicts the science of six feet of distancing. So what the commissioner is doing is waving a magic wand saying problems are solved, and then implementing unilateral authority and usurping the decisions of every school committee.”

People 65 and with two eligible health conditions are currently able to receive their COVID vaccine. Teachers are among the next group that will become eligible, though no date has been set.

Najimy said the state should focus on prioritizing educators in the vaccine process before bringing more students back to the classroom.

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“Problems are being solved local by local between educators’ unions and school committees,” she said. “We need the state, instead of to impose unilateralism, give us the support and resources to make this project work.”

CBSBoston.com Staff