Local parents react to DESE decision to reopen schools come April

Local parents react to DESE decision to reopen schools come April

BELMONT, Mass. — Reopening schools has been a hot topic across the state, especially in towns like Belmont. Parents on both sides of the issue have strong opinions on whether schools should fully reopen in April after state education leaders announced the plan Tuesday to phase students back to in-person learning five days a week.

“Asking teachers to be in classrooms with double the capacity of students, it’s really just an unfair situation that is putting undue stress onto our already overtaxed educators,” said Patsy Collins Bandes, a parent of two children in Belmont schools.

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Some parents said schools should not fully reopen before teachers are fully vaccinated.

“Forcing districts to be able to crowd more students into a space is not safe for students either,” Collins Bandes said.

She worried reopening full-time in April would be a difficult transition for her kids and teachers who have gotten used to remote learning.

“Turning that upside down with 8-10 weeks left in the school year seems completely ridiculous for political purposes,” Collins Bandes said.

But other parents in Belmont disagree.

“I’m absolutely relieved by it,” said Jamal Saeh, a father of two high school students in Belmont.

Saeh was happy to hear the decision from state leaders Tuesday to push for reopening schools full time by April. He said his two teenagers have already missed out on too many hours of learning.

“Thirty hours is what my kids have gotten for in-person instruction in 12 months,” Saeh said. “So two months is actually orders of magnitude more than what they’ve received in 12 months.”

Saeh said this last year has been isolating for his kids, so returning to school for even just a couple months this school year would be huge.

“I do think this will be a welcome experience for the kids and for the parents and a relief after being battered for a whole year with COVID,” Saeh said.

Parents who disagree with DESE’s decision Tuesday also believe the decision to reopen schools should be up to each individual school district instead of an overall state mandate.

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