LEOMINSTER, MASS. (WHDH) - The mayor of Leominster has declared a public health emergency in an effort to get children back into the classroom for in-person learning.

Mayor Dean Mazzarella called an emergency meeting Monday night to discuss remote learning concerns with the school committee.

“I call this meeting because I am concerned about the future of those students who are not learning remotely. I am concerned about those students with IEPs and special needs. I am concerned about those students who are left home during the day because their parents have to choose between going to work and paying the rent,” Mazzarella told the committee.

Many parents have voiced complaints about remote learning because their children are struggling. Mazzarella feels their concerns are being ignored by school officials.

“Remote learning is causing health issues involving brain development and overstimulation,” one parent said during the meeting. “My kids are having full-on meltdowns every day.”

Despite protest from Mazzarella, committee members left the meeting early to attend a previously scheduled workshop.

“I called this special meeting in hopes that they would sit here and listen to the fact that this is probably a public health crisis,” Mazzarella said.

Mazzarella argued that it’s safe for in-person learning to resume in the city because COVID-19 metrics are in the “green” zone on the state’s map that assesses the risk for transmission.

The committee previously voted for schools to remain remote for at least the first quarter of the school year.

“This to me is a priority,” Mazzarella added. “This is the most important thing going on in the community.”

Mazzarella said he plans to establish remote learning academies and other resources to assist students in need.

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