Many Mass. elementary school students return to class for full in-person learning

BOSTON (WHDH) - Hundreds of thousands of elementary school students in Massachusetts returned to the classroom Monday morning for full-time, in-person learning.

State officials ordered about 90 percent of elementary schools to offer full in-person learning beginning April 5, with some cities — including Boston and Worcester — getting waivers to delay.

Many students have said they are excited to get back to the classroom, including Framingham fifth-grader Alissa Deych, who is looking forward to “talking to my friends and actually doing work.”

This comes as more and more educators are getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I think now we’re getting a lot more appointments open, just yesterday I received two texts from two different sites,” Charlestown guidance counselor Josette Teneus said.

The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education says their decision to get students back to learning in-person was based on data that showed transmission in schools is extremely low.

“We were ready to get back. It’s a very exciting time,” said James Jette, Superintendent of Milton Public Schools. “For some students, it’s like the first day of school all over again. This is the first time that some of the cohorts are blending together.”

Some students within the state have tested positive for COVID-19, but officials say that’s likely from outside the classroom.

Still, some parents are concerned and wish there was a hybrid option.

“Parents received an email that said, ‘Hey, the governor, the commissioner said we have to fully reopen. Choose. Do you want your kid to stay home five days or do you want to stay remote and that’s it,” Boston parent Latoya Gayle said.

Boston parent Shirley Porcena added, “It’s the hardest decision I’ve probably had to make and I’m not comfortable sending her back because I don’t believe that our schools are equipped.”

Students returning to the classroom will notice their desks spaced three feet apart per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Meals will either be eaten in shifts or in classrooms and everyone will be required to wear masks throughout the day.

Some school districts are also participating in pool testing to determine if there are any cases of the coronavirus.

“I think he’s going to be safe because the schools and everybody we do pool testing and they’ve been taking great care of our kids,” Natick parent Paula Buckley said.

Most middle school students will be headed back for full in-person learning on April 28.

The state is expected to announce sometime this month what the timeline will be for high school students.

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