90% of MA school districts returning elementary students to in-person learning by April 5, DESE says

Ninety percent of school districts in Massachusetts will return elementary school students to full in-person learning by April 5, the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley said in an update by the department.

In total, 74 school districts requested waivers to delay the return to in-person learning for some elementary school students; 58 of those requests were approved while six were denied and 10 remain in review.

Of the 58 districts that had waivers approved, 26 will delay fifth-graders returning to in-person learning because that grade of students is a part of those districts’ middle schools.

The other 32 districts had their waivers approved because they have been fully remote for the entire school year. Those districts will go to hybrid learning by April 5 before returning to in-person learning full-time by either April 12, April 26 or May 3, DESE said.

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DESE denied waiver requests for six school districts because those districts either wanted to keep one fully remote day or wanted to continue hybrid learning for the remainder of the school year.

“Bringing all our kids back to school is crucial for their educational progress and emotional and social well-being,” Commissioner Riley said. “And we will continue to work with districts to bring students back ahead of their waiver-approved return dates.”

Of the largest school districts in the commonwealth, Fall River, Lawrence and New Bedford did not request waivers; Boston and Worcester are still having their waiver requests reviewed; Chelsea will have students in grades K-4 fully in-person by April 12, and Somerville will have students grades K-8 fully in-person by April 28.

Additionally, elementary school students in Springfield’s district will start hybrid learning by April 5 and will return to full in-person learning by May 3. Similarly, Brockton students will start hybrid learning by April 5 with elementary school students back to in-person learning full-time by April 26.

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