SALEM, MASS. (WHDH) – Many schools are getting kids outside to help slow the spread of the virus but, with the weather turning colder, some parents say they are not hot on this move.

Item five on the Salem Public School District’s new COVID-19 policy encourages children of all ages to eat outside if the temperature is 20 degrees or higher and classroom windows must be cracked open no matter how cold the New England wind blows.

“Throughout the pandemic, we really encourage giving students the option of eating outdoors, trying to keep windows open within reason,” said Superintendent Stephen Zrike. “We make decisions that we think are in the best interests of kids. But we also know that not everyone is going to agree and we’ll work with families.”

A bill was filed on Beacon Hill pre-COVID that would allow a commission to study classroom temperatures in schools. That bill is now gaining some traction in the legislature.

The bill’s sponsor, State Sen. Patrick O’Connor said school administrators must use good common sense – even in a pandemic – when it dips below 68 degrees or rises above 80.

“Personally, I don’t think that temperatures right now in Massachusetts are suitable for children to be going outside and eating their lunch,” he said.

One parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said she chose to keep her 9-year-old son at home Tuesday as the coldest morning of the season swept the Bay State.

“He is cold all day. This happened yesterday — he was in his classroom and all his windows were open and he was shivering and he asked if they could shut the windows and the teacher responded with no, that the rule was she had to keep them all open,” she said.

That mom was one of many who expressed their frustrations with the policy in posts on a Salem Facebook page.

“He has recess outside and asked to come inside and they said, ‘No,” she explained.

Other folks who were dropping kids off that morning said they are fine with the policy — especially amid the surge of the highly contagious omicron variant.

“It’s cold we bundled them up and we try to make the best of it but they’re doing fine,” said Gina Gallo, a mother of two.

Parent and School Committee Member Kristin Pangallo was outside monitoring the kids as they played by the Bates School. She said many of the kids enjoy eating their lunches outside.

“I think it’s an extremely reasonable policy. It’s really helping to keep kids safe. We know that transmission is going to be highest if masks are off in an indoor environment,” said Pangallo. “If kids are outside, they can have their masks off, they can relax and just hang out– and they also have a lot of fun.”

Zrike said the children are not forced to go outside for lunch but parents say it can be hard for their kids to advocate for themselves.

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