SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The White House now formally considers teachers to be essential workers. This new guidance clears the way for teachers to come to work even after being exposed to COVID-19.

Western Mass News spoke with the Massachusetts Teacher Association (MTA) about whether state leaders would be adopting this guidance. The president of the MTA has called this new guidance reckless and said this new measure puts not just students and teachers at risk, but their families too.

President Donald Trump administration has formally added teachers to the list of essential workers during the pandemic, which means teachers do not have to self-quarantine if they are exposed to the coronavirus, as long as they show no symptoms.

"It’s both insane and reckless, why would we want to put anybody who is asymptomatic in a building with several hundred people," said the president of the MTA, Merrie Najimy.

She said she doesn’t believe school districts in the Commonwealth will adopt that practice.

"I think your sane person, your everyday person will understand the absurdity and danger in it," Najimy noted.

This comes as the Baker administration this week unveiled a new rapid response testing program for schools in Massachusetts K-12, responding to continued concerns about students and teachers returning to classrooms this fall.

"The mobile rapid response team would be deployed if the following minimal conditions applied, for example, if two or more students or staff within a classroom group developed COVID-19 within 14 days and transmission exposure appeared to have occurred in the classroom," Najimy explained.

She told Western Mass News this effort is an important step, but it still comes up short and said we need to be testing before cases arise.

"We could develop systems where the testing is frequent without testing every single person, every single day, but enough to be on top of if the virus exists and if it’s spreading," she noted.

The MTA continues to support all schools opening for remote learning only this fall but has also released their guidance with safety measures, including PPE training.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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