(WGGB/WSHM) -- The Massachusetts Teacher's Association has come to an agreement with the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to reduce the mandated number of days within the school year due to circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
They said the move gives teachers more time to plan for students to return to the classroom.
Western Mass News is getting answers with Merrie Najimy, president of the association, who said more still needs to be done to ensure school buildings are safe for both children and educators.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education reached an agreement with the state educator’s unions to reduce the Massachusetts school year by 10 days.
“We need these full 10 years to reflect revise and redevelop,” Najimy explained.
It’s something Najimy told Western Mass News is crucial in ensuring educators have enough time to plan for a safe return back to the classroom.
“COVID is going to be with us for a year and it's going to change education and how we plan for the buildings to be ready,” Najimy noted.
The commissioner changing the 180 day mandate to now 170 days - 850 hours for elementary schools and 935 hours for secondary schools - and districts must begin providing instruction for students no later than September 16.
“We had 24 hours to prepare crisis learning under COVID in the spring,” Najimy explained.
Najimy said the additional 10 days is a win for the teacher's association to make sure their classrooms are prepared to handle COVID-19
“We need rapid testing and contact tracing and some kind of public health standard,” Najimy added.
However, they are asking for more help from local and state governments
“We need the state to call for inspections on every single school building to see if their up to safety standards and if not, they need to be upgraded,” Najimy said.
Also, they are calling on the governor and state legislature to increase their budget.
“Do your job and get us a budget now because there are no shortcuts for returning safely,” Najimy said.
Najimy also said they need a public health standard for schools.
An all-member meeting is taking place Wednesday – Wednesday to discuss issues and feedback.