AMHERST – Amherst State Representative calls on Governor Charlie Baker to activate the Massachusetts National Guard, and possibly members of the Medical Reserve Corps, so that COVID-19 pooled testing can begin immediately in all school districts that ask for service.
A letter sent this week by Representative Mindy Domb, D-Amherst, urges Baker, along with Health and Human Services Secretary Mary Lou Sudders, Education Secretary James Peyser and the Commissioners of Public Health and Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, to meet the needs of those who requested the service in August.
Domb said on Friday she was concerned that many school districts across the state, including those in the communities it serves of Amherst, Granby and Pelham, could have set up pooled testing, comparing it to the rollout. “Bumpy and bumpy” state. COVID-19 vaccinations for seniors in early 2021.
âJust as the governor has activated the National Guard to drive school buses to ensure that students get to their schools safely during a shortage of regular bus drivers, I think we need to activate additional members of the Guard. Massachusetts National Authority to support the establishment of bundled testing services. in Commonwealth school districts, âDomb said.
She called for additional staff after learning that significant staffing issues were cited as the reason school districts are still waiting for service, which can identify possible outbreaks of COVID-19 before they happen. , and allow districts to trace contacts, quarantine and other audiences. mitigation measures for health.
Members of the guard as well as members of the Medical Reserve Corps of Massachusetts or retired health care providers could be deployed to fill the staffing gap that has prevented the implementation of pooled testing.
âThese delays are unacceptable as we enter the second month of the school year,â Domb said, noting in particular that children under 12 cannot yet receive COVID-19 vaccines. âThey may be explainable, but they are unacceptable. “
In her letter, she cited the private consultant, CIC Health, hired by the Baker administration to oversee the scaling up of the pooled tests:
âFrom what I understand, CIC has asked the local superintendents to start exploring hiring locally for this service that they are committed to providing. This is unacceptable. Our superintendents have enough work to do to return to face-to-face learning and restore programs and services for students and their families.
In Amherst, Superintendent Michael Morris said he requested group testing on August 16.
âWe’re still working with the state provider to get it up and running,â Morris said. âThere have been several changes in the supplier’s project coordinator here, which has slowed down the implementation. “
Domb said she doesn’t know how many other people are affected, but asked for that information. She also criticized the administration and its vendor for recommended solutions, such as having superintendents to do their own hiring.
Domb has previously expressed concern about the governor’s actions during the pandemic. Over the summer, for example, she opposed Baker’s initial refusal to issue a statewide mask warrant for classrooms and criticized the initial decision by officials of the education to drop COVID-19 surveillance in schools. She urged them to reverse this decision and restore surveillance of epidemics in schools.
And last fall, his office created a dashboard of COVID-19 cases reported at public and private colleges and universities, as the state only included case totals and not details on the issue of find out if a specific institution became an epicenter of propagation.
Scott Merzbach can be reached at [email protected]