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MA GOP Governor Accused Of Playing ‘Russian Roulette’ For Not Mandating Masks In K-12 Schools


A Massachusetts Democrat has accused Republican Governor Charlie Baker of playing “Russian roulette” with the wellbeing of schoolkids, teachers, and their families.

State Senator Becca Rausch, a Democrat from Needham, made the allegation in a press release issued on Monday announcing she had filed a bill that afternoon that would require universal masking among students and staff in all Massachusetts K-12 schools.“With less than a month before our children head back to school, this administration chooses to play Russian roulette with the health of Massachusetts students and families,” Rausch said in a statement. “This administration fails to follow the science to the detriment of every community in this Commonwealth. I filed this bill to give families and school staff the piece (sic) of mind they deserve about protecting their health and safety.”

Rausch’s proposal would also “ensure no attendance penalty for students with vaccination appointments during school hours and provide paid time off for parents and caregivers taking students to get vaccinated against COVID-19,” the release said.

The move comes after the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the largest teachers union in the state, called on Gov. Baker to implement a face-covering mandate for public schools from pre-K through higher education.According to the Boston Herald, a backlash has been mounting over Baker’s decision not to align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, which urges universal masking in schools this fall. The federal guidelines also encourage face coverings indoors for counties with high COVID-19 transmission rates.

Baker’s second term ends next year, but he has not said whether he plans to run for re-election.

Former state Sen. Ben Downing, a Democratic candidate for governor, issued a statement on Monday criticizing Baker.

“The people of Massachusetts need clarity and consistency on how to best approach protocols for vaccination and mask mandates in schools, employment, and social environments throughout the Commonwealth,” said Downing.

On Friday, Baker’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) issued new guidance that “strongly recommended students in sixth grade and below wear masks indoors when classes begin in the fall,” NBC Boston reported. Children under the age of 12 are still ineligible for vaccination.

The updated recommendations also encouraged unvaccinated staffers and unvaccinated students in grades 7 and above to wear masks indoors. However, the guidelines advised schools to allow vaccinated students to remain unmasked.

Gov. Baker said on Friday that local officials could make adjustments to “do what’s right for their specific school districts.” He reportedly said earlier last week that he was “considering” a mask mandate in schools.

The Herald reported, “Massachusetts health officials reported a spike of 2,054 new coronavirus cases over the weekend, and the Boston-area COVID wastewater tracker shows a virus surge as the more highly contagious delta variant takes hold.” On Monday, there were 215 COVID patients hospitalized across the state, including 50 in intensive care units.

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