Mass. Parents Speak Out About Remote Learning

Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley planned to discuss full reopening at a Tuesday board meeting

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The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education kicked off its first in-person meeting since February with testimony from a pair of Massachusetts parents dissatisfied with the hybrid learning models in place in their communities that have COVID-19 positivity rates below the state average.

Andover parent Stephanie Sweet said her family is now "spending thousands of dollars a month to send our three kids, ages six and under, to private facilities so that we can access full-time, in-person models for them."

"The fact that this is our only option is simply unacceptable," Sweet said.

She said Andover's nine private kindergartens are fully reopened, and urged education officials to rethink some of their guidance -- like rules limiting the number of children who can be transported on one bus -- so that it would be easier for areas with low infection rates to bring kids into schools.

David Goldstone said high school in Newton, which his daughters attend, is offering remote learning, with no date set to open in-person. There is less homework and an "incomplete curriculum," he said, and students are isolated.

"The schools are abandoning our children," he said. "Watching these harms inflicted on our daughters is the saddest experience we've had as parents."

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School reopening decisions have been largely left to local officials, though the Baker administration has been pushing for at least some in-person schooling in communities deemed to have lower risks of COVID-19 spread.

Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley planned to discuss reopening later at Tuesday's board meeting.

"Each community is unique in terms of its own data, right, so we know that that's the case, and it's also unique in terms of its ability to bargain between its school committee and its teachers," board chair Katherine Craven said.

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