BOSTON (WHDH) - Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius stepped in to teach a classroom full of elementary school students on Wednesday amid staffing shortages across the district due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Cassellius filled in at the Nathan Hale School in Roxbury, where she taught poetry and math to fourth-grade students.

Cassellius says she decided to take on additional duties after more than 1,000 teachers and staff members called out sick Tuesday on the district’s first day of classes following the holiday break.

“Today is all about our children. I’m just really excited to be here,” Cassellius said of her opportunity to teach after about a couple of decades removed from it.

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On Tuesday, 42 schools had 20 percent of their staff out sick. About another 1,100 teachers and staff were absent Wednesday.

“I also wanted to step in and represent all of the incredible employees that we have in BPS who are doing everything above and beyond to keep or kids in-person,” the superintendent added.

Cassellius says she expects the number of sick calls to climb in the coming days.

The district’s goal is keep students learning in the classroom, but Cassellius warned parents of possible cancellations in the coming weeks as officials work to manage the virus outbreak.

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