BOSTON (WHDH) - More than 1,000 Boston Public Schools teachers and staff members called out sick Tuesday on the district’s first day of classes following the holiday break.
A total of 461 teachers, about 1,000 staff members, and 52 bus drivers phoned in with an illness, according to BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius.
Cassellius says she expects the number of sick calls to climb in the coming days.
Forty-two schools have 20 percent of their staff out sick and 60 central office staff members have been deployed to help those schools with the staffing shortages, according to Cassellius.
Classes were not canceled across the district on Tuesday, despite the significant shortages.
“I talk to principals every single day, they want their children in the schools. Our teachers want to go to work,” Cassellius said. “They want to be in a safe environment with their children and we can’t do it unless the whole community comes together.”
Massachusetts distributed more than 200,000 at-home COVID-19 testing kits to school districts across the state over the weekend.
Boston canceled classes on Monday to allow teachers and staff a chance to use the tests before returning to school.
Boston Teachers Union President Jessica Tang said she didn’t think it would be a smooth first day of school this new year.
“Educators and families, I think, are very anxious about going back and the district is certainly scrambling,” she said.
Tang added that the union believes there could have been better planning.
Cassellius noted that not all sick teachers and staff reported COVID-19 symptoms.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said 155 teachers and staff tested positive for the virus over the weekend.
“This is a very difficult time,” Wu explained. “We’re balancing everything that there could be to balance, so it’s truly all hands on deck.”
Officials say they hope to avoid falling back on remote learning if possible.
This all comes as the omicron variant continues to drive daily case counts to record levels. The rush to get tested after the holidays is also causing long lines at testing facilities across the state.
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