The Massachusetts Coalition for Health Equity is calling on Governor Charlie Baker to do more to prepare for a possible COVID rebound once school is back in session this fall.

The coalition wants K-12 students and staff to be tested for COVID before classes resume after Labor Day. According to the State House News Service, the group also wants government, business, and education leaders to "outline clear plans for when mask mandates would be triggered if another surge builds."

Baker's Decision On Massachusetts School Mask Mandates
Fairhaven Public Schools via Facebook

During a news conference last week, Coalition member Katie Murphy, President of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, said, "We all want our society and our schools open. We all want this pandemic to be over."

But Murphy added, "Wishing it won't make it so, and pretending we're doing all that needs to be done for the fall and winter seasons and what they may portend isn't acceptable on any level."

Baker's Decision On Massachusetts School Mask Mandates
Greg Desrosiers/Townsquare Media

Baker said the coalition's concerns are "not consistent with a lot of the federal guidance that we've gotten and certainly not consistent with a lot of the international guidance either."

Baker said his administration is "not recommending universal mask requirements, surveillance testing of asymptomatic individuals, contract tracing or test-to-stay testing in schools" for the upcoming academic year.

Baker's Decision On Massachusetts School Mask Mandates
Mary Serreze/Townsquare Media

Baker said the coalition's demands "don't make sense from a public health point of view, and they certainly don't make sense from the point of view of the educational and sort of emotional development of kids."

"A lot of f people would say that the hit that kids took because of some of those policies early on during the pandemic, they're still paying for themselves and will be paying for for a long time going forward," he said.

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