Boston Public Schools are welcoming back nearly 8,000 students into classrooms Monday, starting with those in pre-school and kindergarten through Grade 3.
They join about 7,000 students with high needs who have been attending class in person since December. Mayor Marty Walsh announced the plan last week, citing a continued downward trend in coronavirus case numbers.
"It will be the first time our kids will be in school in nearly a year," Walsh said Thursday. "This is a big step for us. The positivity rate is in the right place, so getting our kids in school now is the next important step we can have for our children."
The phased approach continues on March 15 when students in Grades 4 through 8 return, followed by all other students on March 29. Parents can still opt for remote learning if they choose.
Some parents like Beth Grampetro can't wait.
“I think it will be very good for her to go back. She’s very excited," Grampetro said of her daughter who is in kindergarten in Jamaica Plain. "She’s actually never been back inside her school since last year.”
“I think for 5- and 6-year-old kids — they’re not supposed to be sitting at a computer all day long. So, it’s hard for them,” she added of virtual learning.
But other parents like Vinicio Coj say it's just too soon.
“My wife and I are happy with our kid being at home and staying at home,” Coj said of his son Dylan, who is a first grader in Dorchester. "What concerns do I have? First, him getting sick.”
“I think it’ll be good that he can go back full-time, but without the pandemic,” he added.
While parents who spoke with NBC10 Boston Sunday night were split over the plan to send kids back to the classroom, they did agree on one thing: the state should allow teachers to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
It's a concern shared by the Boston Teachers Union, which also pointed out that many families actually prefer remote learning.
“The schools we visited — the air purifiers are in place. There are working windows; there’s an ample supply of PPE,” BTU President Jessica Tang said. "The one major recommendation, again, that educators should get vaccinated has not been completed or even started here in Massachusetts.”
Early education and K-12 workers are listed as Group 3 in Phase 2 of the Massachusetts COVID-19 vaccination plan, which means they are next in line but not yet eligible to receive the vaccine.