WESTFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- After close to four hours of discussion, the Westfield Public School Committee shot down a plan to go to full remote learning this fall. Instead, the committee approved a hybrid model.
The hybrid plan is approved, but the phases of it will be voted on by the committee in a timetable to be determined.
The back to school hybrid model includes several steps in the first phase:
- 1a) Westfield Technical Academy starts the first day of school.
- 1b) high needs students return.
- 1c) all kindergarten and fort meadow students return.
The school committee also voted on a fully remote model tonight which did not pass.
Now some parents want their kids in school with other students, but other parents are saying remote is the safest choice.
“I want them to stay remote because I have three girls that are high risk,” said Marisol Sanchez of Westfield. “And they're all asthmatic and returning to school with the COVID to me is actually scary.”
This is the reality many parents are thinking when sending their kids back to school, and the fear of them potentially catching the coronavirus inside the classroom.
“To lose one of my children because of the COVID virus -- even though they say the children are not getting it, yes they do,” she said.
The Academy of Pediatrics found nearly 100,000 children in the United States tested positive for COVID-19 during the last two weeks of July.
One Westfield father, Andy Colon, said he believes the Bay State needs to get a handle on coronavirus first before sending kids back to school.
“As a father and as someone who has children within the Westfield school system, I personally would rather have a virtual learning system at least until we get the pandemic under control,” he said.
Colon is optimistic about going to a hybrid learning model later in the school year.
“We'll be able to control the environment and hopefully be able to make strides towards opening better in terms of a hybrid system in November, December,” he said.
Sanchez said if the school committee had voted for a hybrid model she would fight to keep her child remote and take her concerns to the Board of Education.
More than 2,400 families participated in a survey about going back to school in Westfield.
While Monday was scheduled to be the state's deadline for school plans, officials pushed the date back to Friday, Aug. 14.
Officials said 516 preliminary plans were submitted across Massachusetts and were reviewed for consistency.
The state is asking for much more information by Friday, including more than just baseline safety measures.
They also want a deeper analysis of each district's feasibility study.
Now the Westfield School District said one challenge they face is the need to revise their plan as guidance changes. This is as a report by the Academy of Pediatrics found nearly 100,000 children in the United States tested positive for the coronavirus in the last two weeks of July. The deadline to submit a draft plan got extended last week. School districts in Massachusetts have until the end of the week to submit a draft plan.