OCTOBER 4, 2021 ∙ PRESS RELEASE
Cambridge, MA — With public schools across Massachusetts back in school and significant delays in the implementation of school-based testing programs for many schools, gubernatorial candidate Danielle Allen is calling on Governor Charlie Baker and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to improve implementation of the test-and-stay program by securing at-home antigen tests for use by those students who are required to complete five days of testing in place of quarantine after exposure. In addition, with approval of pediatric vaccines anticipated by the end of October, Allen is calling on the Governor to activate the National Guard to prepare vaccination clinics at schools across the Commonwealth for speedy implementation of a pediatric vaccine roll-out.
Danielle Allen spearheaded a multi-disciplinary, cross-sector COVID response team that led to the Biden-Harris Pandemic Testing Board, an interstate compact to build out COVID testing resources, and Covid Collaborative guidance on infection prevention and control in K-12 settings that has been disseminated nationally, including through the US Dept of Education. She worked with the Cambridge Public School District throughout the 2020-21 school year to achieve a successful return to healthy and safe in-person teaching and learning.
Allen has called on Baker and DESE to develop and implement a system of COVID alerts and advisories, similar to weather advisories, to communicate the levels of risk operative in the state, our communities, and to trigger mask mandates and other safety protocols. Allen has also called on Baker and the legislator to do the legislative work now necessary to fold COVID-19 vaccines into our state laws for required school vaccinations.
Now, Allen has released the following statement regarding the safety of our students and school personnel:
“Now is the time to mobilize the National Guard to prepare for a speedy pediatric vaccine roll-out via school-based clinics, and to secure and deliver at-home tests to families whose students are required to test for five consecutive days after exposure,” said Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Danielle Allen. “Rather than using the National Guard to address the implementation challenges of the Test and Stay program, we should address those challenges by securing a Commonwealth-wide supply of at-home antigen tests and activate the National Guard to prepare for rollout of pediatric vaccines.”
The current implementation model for the Test-and-Stay program with testing conducted in schools has significantly increased the quantity of testing that must be conducted. The Governor and DESE have mandated this increase in testing without securing the necessary implementation resources. Massachusetts has insufficient health personnel in schools to implement this program. While some elected officials have called for the activation of the National Guard to address this problem, the Allen for MA campaign believes the more effective short and long-term solution is to equip families to test at home by securing rapid antigen at-home tests to be given to all students required to fulfill the five days of testing requirement.
Danielle Allen is advocating for the National Guard to be activated for the purpose of preparing school-based vaccine clinics for the successful implementation of a pediatric vaccine roll-out. The time is here to prepare for this implementation. The success of the National Guard in this vaccine rollout will require the projected month of planning for implementation that is now available to us.
Like the initial adult vaccine roll-out, the school-based testing program has been operationalized via a contract with CIC as the sole provider. The administration has now made the same mistake twice in selecting an ineffective implementation pathway. We should not make the same mistake again with the pediatric vaccine rollout.
We do not have a moment to lose.