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

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. (WHDH) - Many elementary school students in Massachusetts returned to the classroom on Monday morning for full-time, in-person learning.

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

Several students have said they are excited to get back to the classroom, including Framingham fifth-grader Alissa Deych. She says she 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.

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 recalled.

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 supposed to announce sometime this month what the timeline will be for high school students.

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