Mass. Catholic Schools Ready to Resume Classroom Learning Despite Criticism

The plan has come under fire from some saying it’s not safe, but the superintendent of schools for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston is defending the decision.

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Dozens of Catholic schools in Massachusetts are set to start in-person learning with added safety precautions in place like desk shields, hand sanitizer and separated schools supplies. Parents say they are looking forward to it despite some criticism against the decision.

"I feel like it’s the beginning of going back to normal," said Michelle Payne, of Beverly, who is excited to send her son back to Saint's Academy on Wednesday. "I think he’s going to make a lot of use of being in the classroom with a teacher, a professional teacher and not having a face on a Zoom collage."

Saint's Academy in Beverly is one of dozens of Catholic schools around the state set to offer in person learning.

"There are fewer students in the class and I think that is going to make it more manageable," Payne said.

Classes will begin over the next week, and school officials say as many of their nearly 100 schools as safely possible will aim to operate in person.

"From the health perspective it’s very simple: we’re following the guidance of the state health department and local health officials," said Thomas Carroll, the superintendent of schools for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.

The plan has come under fire from some, though, saying it’s not safe. But Carroll is defending the decision.

"If at some point in a particular school they have to go fully remote, our schools are all already outfitted for the technology already to go fully remote if we have to flip the switch."

Teachers in Andover, Massachusetts, were supposed to report to work Monday, but many refused to go into the building because of the coronavirus risk.

Boston Teachers Union President Jessica Tang said in a statement, “We want nothing more than to see our students in person, but the health and safety of students, their families, and educators must guide our efforts. We have over 130 buildings and many high needs students that are particularly high risk. Ensuring that the necessary facilities upgrades and health and safety protocols have been made before everyone returns to schools has been our top priority for months.”

Parents that spoke with NBC10 Boston say this is the right decision for the Catholic school system.

"I’m hopeful that this is a success story," said Payne. "The kids will follow the rules I don’t know that any of the kids enjoyed learning from home."

Students who don’t want to attend in person classes can opt to attend via livestream instead.

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