Gov. Baker Says 70% of Mass. Schools Will Offer Hybrid or in-Person Learning This Fall

He said guidelines on after-school sports are expected to be released later this week

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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday that over 70% of the state's 371 school districts said they will offer hybrid or in-person learning this fall, with only 30% proposing fully remote plans.

The governor, who has spent the past five months leading the state's effort to control the spread of COVID-19, described himself as "encouraged" that so many districts are planning to resume in-person learning.

Gov. Charlie Baker said that he thinks schools in communities with a low rate of coronavirus cases should be working toward at least some in-class instruction.

"Students have been away from their classrooms and their teachers and peers since March," Baker said. "Since then, we've learned a tremendous amount about COVID and have put together guidelines to allow for a productive and safe learning environment that adapts to the challenges that come with COVID-19."

A more detailed breakdown provided by an Executive Office of Education spokesperson shows that hybrid models are the most popular choice, and that the decisions vary by grade level.

None of the 371 districts plan for fully in-person classes at the high school level, where 66% are planning to use a hybrid model and 34% plan on full remote learning, according to the administration's data. At the middle school level, 2% are opting for fully in-person, 62% for hybrid and 36% fully remote. Among elementary schools, it's 10% fully in-person, 63% hybrid and 27% fully remote.

The governor also said Tuesday that he expects the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to release guidance for after-school sports and he will have an update on testing in schools later this week.

Baker said three new communities -- Salem, Holyoke and Saugus -- have been added to the state's "Stop the Spread" testing program, bringing the total number of cities and towns to 20. The free program focuses on communities where the COVID-19 rate is above the statewide average.

Overall, the governor said he's pleased with the work the state, local communities and residents have done to slow the spread of the virus. But he said there are still some communities that are struggling, and until their situations improve he doesn't think it makes sense to resume reopening additional aspects of the economy.

The state also announced additional efforts to combat food insecurity in Massachusetts.

NBC10 Boston has built a map of all the public school districts in the region. Some districts' plans are still being added, while some districts already listed on the map may announce their plans in the days ahead. Please check back frequently for the most up-to-date plans.

While many districts have specified which approach they will use in the fall, questions remain over the reopening plan for Boston schools.

Boston Public Schools' plan rules out a full return to classes in the fall, but falls short of a definitive decision about whether to start school with students learning exclusively from home or in a hybrid model combining remote learning with in-person classes.

The open-ended approach -- which has drawn swift criticism -- instead seeks to emphasize guidance from health officials as well as parental choice.

State House News Service contributed to this report.

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