If state education officials get their way, elementary students in Massachusetts could return to full in-person learning by April, but not everyone is happy about this proposal.

HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- If state education officials get their way, elementary students in Massachusetts could return to full in-person learning by April, but not everyone is happy about this proposal.

A teacher we spoke with said it is unfair to be expected to teach in-person five days a week without a clear timeline of when educators will have access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Adding on top of that is that some school officials are doubtful they’ll be able to safely distance the kids.

“We transitioned back our preschool students and kindergartners on Monday,” said Holyoke school committee member Devin Sheehan.

Right now, Holyoke Public Schools are operating on hybrid learning model for their youngest students.

Sheehan told Western Mass News that Wednesdays are remote days.

“That allows the school to ensure that a deeper cleaning is done,” Sheehan explained.

However, the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education wants that to change. Commissioner Jeff Riley announced a proposal this week to bring students back to full in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Riley said it will be a phased-in approach that starts with elementary students and the goal is to hold in-person learning five days a week for those young students by April.

He noted that schools would have to distance students three to six feet apart.

“I would find that virtually impossible,” Sheehan added.

Riley said his department will help districts struggling with the guidelines, but Sheehan feels the announcement leaves a lot to be desired.

“It was a shortsighted decision,” Sheehan said.

Massachusetts still has no clear date for when teachers will be eligible for the vaccine, which concerns one local teacher who asked that we not use her name.

“Other states have taken tremendous efforts to make sure all of the teachers who want the vaccine are vaccinated. Connecticut is starting to do that and I think that you’ll see some really high,” the teacher explained.

This comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study Monday, showing teachers - rather than students - play a central role when it comes to in-school spreading of the virus.

“I don’t understand why, if there’s such a push to get kids back in school, why they don’t want to make sure that their teachers are as safe as possible,” Sheehan said.

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(1) comment

007.mgj@gmail.com

The big question is: Should elementary and high school students in Massachusetts be given diplomas for the current school year considering their lack of in-person attendance. School administration refuses to answer this question. Meanwhile, celebrity politicians are lining up to deliver commencement speeches.....

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