BOSTON — Despite a sharp increase in coronavirus cases across the state, Gov. Charlie Baker pushed school districts Friday to bring students back to school fully.
Baker and state health and education officials cited very low COVID-19 infection and transmission rates in schools and severe physical and mental health effects of remote learning and isolation from peers and teachers.
“At this point, there’s clear and convincing scientific data that shows children are at significantly less risk of developing serious health issues,” Baker said. “And there’s clear and convincing scientific data that shows learning in a classroom, as long as people are playing by the rules, does not lead to higher transmission rates.”
Baker urged districts with low to moderate coronavirus case numbers to bring kids back fully, while encouraging districts with higher rates to use a hybrid model, if feasible.
Many Massachusetts parents are applauding the state’s message to school districts. They feel it’s safe enough to send their kids fully back to school.
Rebecca, a mother of three from Central Mass., told Boston 25 News Friday she
“I would love to have my kids be back fill time, obviously with precautions,” she said. “But I think it’s important to their mental health, to get their face-to-face teaching.”
Rebecca’s youngest, a first-grader with special needs, goes to school four days a week and spends one day at home. Her one-on-one instruction is limited, and her sole day at home is a struggle, she said.
“She has high-functioning autism, and Google Meets just don’t work for her,” Rebecca said. “She gets very dysregulated. It’s difficult for her to pay attention.”
Rebecca’s high school senior goes to a vocation school. Although she has a co-op program she can leave home for, all other classes are remote.
“I have a twelfth-grader applying for colleges,” Rebecca said. “She needs to have that academic piece, time in school in front of a teacher, learning in person, not just on video.”
But many other parents are wary of sending their kids back. Kiria Medina, a Brockton mother of three daughters, tested positive for COVID-19 recently, along with her 14-year-old twins, Oliana and Nesari, freshmen at Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical School in Easton. They all have asthma and have spent time in the hospital. Medina’s oldest daughter, who did not test positive, is living separately with Medina’s mother to stay safe.
“I really didn’t think I’d ever see my kids again, because I was struggling for every breath,” Medina said. “Just the fact that a lot of parents just want their kids to go back to school is beyond me.”
Medina completed the paperwork to keep her twin girls home from school for the rest of the year. They will be learning remotely even after they have recovered, so they minimize their exposure to others.
“I never in my life want my kids to go through the emotional stress of this again,” Medina said. “I feel like it’s really unfair. I feel like people are unaware of what you really have to deal with.”
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