DESE board votes to give education commissioner authority to phase out hybrid and remote learning

Reopening schools in Massachusetts was at center stage at a high-stakes meeting Friday

BOSTON — A major change was approved by state education officials to give more power to the commissioner to end remote learning in April.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education met and voted 8-3 on Friday afternoon to authorize Massachusetts Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley to put a timeline on ending remote and hybrid learning.

In response to the vote Friday evening, Governor Baker released a statement:

“Learning in the classroom is the best and safest place for students to be with proper safety protocols, and our administration is pleased that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education took this step to get more kids back into the classroom. The data is clear that students learning in the classroom can be done safely and it is vital to their emotional and intellectual health. We are grateful for the Board’s support and look forward to getting all students back to in person learning soon.”

The latest report out Thursday shows even as more kids have returned to classrooms, the number of cases in schools dropped by more than 100 in the past week.

According to the state’s latest numbers, a total of 476 staff and students tested positive in Massachusetts Public Schools, which is down 106 compared to last week.

To put this in perspective, there are about 450,000 students and 75,000 staff in public schools.

Since the beginning of this year, there have been a total of just under 12,000 cases.

These numbers just show how many positive tests there are, it does not mean that students and staff actually became infected while in school. In fact, the governor has consistently said the number of cases contracted in schools has been very low.

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