August 24, 2021
Pressley Statement on Massachusetts School Mask Mandate
“From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have consistently called for our response to be guided by science and center the health and well-being of the communities most impacted. Today, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education took an important and welcome step forward by heeding our calls and voting overwhelmingly in support of a universal, indoor mask mandate for Massachusetts schools. “A statewide school mask mandate, which is in alignment with federal health guidelines and recommendations from the medical community and our educators, is critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting the health and safety of our students, teachers, and communities writ-large. “But make no mistake, this pandemic is not over and our work to collectively safeguard our communities continues. With the highly contagious delta variant continuing to spike statewide, Governor Baker must also reinstate plans to collect and publish positive COVID-19 cases in schools to ensure that we can monitor infections and outbreaks in real time. “We must take every measure necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth and save lives. I look forward to swift action from the Baker administration on this critical issue.” In April 2020, she and Senator Warren led their colleagues in introducing the Equitable Data Collection and Disclosure on COVID-19 Act , legislation to require the federal government to collect and publicly release racial and other demographic data on COVID-19. The bill also would establish an inter-agency commission to make recommendations in real time on improving data collection and transparency and responding equitably to this crisis. Aspects of the legislation were included in an COVID-19 relief package signed into law later that month. In April 2020, Rep. Pressley urged Governor Baker to rescind the Commonwealth’s proposed Crisis of Care Standards that would have disproportionately harmed Black and Brown communities and the disability community. In March 2020, Pressley urged HHS to collect racial and ethnic demographic data on testing and treatment for COVID-19 to identify and address racial disparities. In June 2020, she introduced the Dismantle Mass Incarceration for Public Health Act with Reps. Tlaib (MI-13) and Barbara Lee (CA-13) to require decarceration to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in prisons and jails. Congresswoman Pressley also sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) calling on the agency to immediately release racial and ethnic data of Medicare beneficiaries who are tested or hospitalized for COVID-19. Congresswoman Pressley has also written to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asking for HHS’s report on the administration’s efforts to address racial disparities in health care access and outcomes, as required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). At the request of Congresswoman Pressley, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has agreed to investigate how COVID-19 relief funds have been distributed to disproportionately affected communities. In January 2021, Rep. Pressley sent a letter to Governor Charlie Baker calling on him to center the health and safety of Black and Brown communities in the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 response and ongoing vaccination deployment plans. In February 2021, Rep. Pressley, Senator Warren, and Rep. Sylvia Garcia (TX-29) reintroduced the COVID-19 in Corrections Data Transparency Act , bicameral legislation that would require the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the United States Marshals Service, and state governments to collect and publicly report detailed statistics about COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, deaths, and vaccinations in federal, state, and local correctional facilities.