‘Life or Death': Worcester Parents Concerned About Students Returning to School

The school committee voted for a hybrid model, with some face-to-face learning and some remote. They discussed how that could work Monday night.

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What will school look like in the fall? It's a big question school districts across the country are facing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In Massachusetts, there are mixed opinions on the Worcester School District's plans for reopening in the fall. The school committee and community members spent time Monday night discussing ways they could safely reopen.

"This is life or death," Worcester parent Rachel Henry said.

Henry is one of many parents in Worcester concerned about letting her child return to school this fall.

"We share a home with an 80-year-old grandparent, we don’t want her infected," Henry said.

There are mixed opinions on Worcester School District's re-opening plans. Monday night, the school committee discussed ways to safely reopen.

Teachers are sharing similar concerns. 

"It’s true they shouldn’t be expected to die for the job," said Roger Nugent with the educational association of Worcester.

Some say classes should be completely remote, while others say face-to-face learning is best.

"We’ve got just as many who are afraid to go in as we do who can’t wait to go back and do face-to-face," Nugent said.

As schools reopen across the country, faculty, teachers and families will need to remain flexible and expect that quick changes may be necessary, an expect in business continuity during disasters told LX News. Chloe Demrovsky is the president and CEO of Disaster Recovery Institute International, which is working with some schools on their reopening plans.

The school committee voted for a hybrid model, with some face-to-face learning and some remote. In Monday night’s meeting, they discussed how that could work.

School committee members debated how students could socially distance in class, to how many passengers could ride safely on buses safely. But educators felt their voices weren't duly heard.

"I really think the best thing to do would be if they brought us to the table and had a conversation with us," Nugent said.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report on Wednesday with recommendations on how districts should prepare to reopen schools.

Parents are left with many remaining questions and concerns.

"Right now he doesn’t want to go and I’m having to let him make that choice," Henry said of her son.

The hybrid model is the favored option right now and would mean students are physically in class two to three days per week, with remote learning done the rest of the time.

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