Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican in a deeply blue state who has so far resisted issuing a mask mandate or vaccination requirement for schools, came under pressure this week for stricter regulations from the state’s largest teachers’ union.
The Massachusetts Teachers Association board of directors voted on Tuesday, 46 to 4, to adopt a vaccine requirement for all eligible students and staff, following up on a unanimous vote August 1 in favor of a mask mandate. The union’s president, Merrie Najimy, noted that Governor Baker has resisted taking these steps.
“Educators and our unions are doing everything in our power to ensure that public schools and colleges can open safely,” she said. “We continue to be alarmed by the failure of state political leaders to follow our example.”
She added, “it’s as if Governor Baker” and other state education officials “have learned nothing over the past year and a half.”
according a survey released Thursday by The MassINC Polling Group.
Governor Baker, a Republican, has said he prefers to leave masking decisions to local officials, who “know these communities best.”
“Different communities are in different places,” he told WGBH, a radio station. “You have some communities in Massachusetts where 85 to 95 percent of all the kids and the middle and high school are vaccinated. You have many other districts in Massachusetts where the numbers are far, far smaller.”
On Thursday afternoon, however, Governor Baker announced a strict vaccine mandate for 42,000 state government workers, requiring them to show proof of vaccination by mid-October.