School Districts in Mass. Announce Plans to Start Fall Semester Remotely

Some Massachusetts districts that had initially been leaning toward a hybrid reopening model have announced fully remote plans to start the school year

NBC Universal, Inc.

School districts in Massachusetts now have until August 14 to file their "final" reopening plans with the state.

But several districts that had initially been leaning toward a hybrid model are already announcing fully remote plans for at least the start of the school year.

"The administration's recommendation is a hybrid model, but a hybrid model that starts as hybrid at the earliest at the end of the first quarter, grading quarter, so that would be mid-November," said Worcester School Committee member Tracy O'Connell Novick.

O'Connell Novick says due to spacing constraints and ineffective HVAC systems, the district's hybrid model would only allow for one day of in-person schooling per week for its 25,000 students.

That's just nine days in a classroom for each student each quarter.

"There's been tons and tons of work about, like, who would do what, and how would you run the bus routes, and who would space this and how would you do nutrition in the buildings for kids to have nine days, and I just -- at what point does it not become worth it?" O'Connell Novick said.

While many parents want their kids back in school, some understand it's a nearly impossible balancing act for school districts.

"There's no guarantees they can protect the kids at this point in time," said Grafton parent Ken Bridges.

Districts like Somerville, Lynn, Revere, Leominster and Oxford have all recommended similar remote-only starts, directly against the push from Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley and Gov. Charlie Baker to try to get as many students back to school as possible.

"To say everybody should go remote, the facts don't support it, the data doesn't support it and the science doesn't support it," Baker said.

"I do feel, to some degree, that we're almost having to play a little bit of a game with the state, because they're pushing so hard, which I think is incredibly inappropriate," said O'Connell Novick. "We know how much our kids have lost by not being in class."

And no matter what is decided over the next week or so with school plans and school committee meetings, all reopening plans are subject to change based on infection rates.

Contact Us