BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Thousands of students in the Boston Public Schools system will return to the classroom on Monday, as the district begins to phase back to full in-person learning.
This is the first time in nearly a year that approximately 7,900 students in grades pre-k through third will be stepping foot in school buildings after shifting to remote learning during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The move comes as thousands of high-need students have been learning in-person for several months. The addition of students in grades pre-k through third brings the in-person learning total to approximately 15,600 students.
Mayor Walsh said school buildings are equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE) and better safety standards to prepare for the larger group of students.
That includes air purifiers in "every occupied space," air quality testing, air filters and improved HVAC systems and "medical grade" masks and shields for teachers and students.
The Boston Teacher's Union has also done a walkthrough of the buildings to test the quality of the safety measures -- but they emphasize that getting teachers vaccinated against the virus is still of the highest priority.
Despite the transition -- visitors -- including parents and caregivers are still not allowed inside school buildings unless they are dropping off or picking up a student. The return to in-person learning also remains "opt-in" for guardians, meaning they can still choose to have their students learn remotely if they prefer that option.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said the change is a major advancement in city's reopening plans.
"The [Covid-19] positivity rate is in the right place, we're seeing the trends going in the right direction, " Walsh said. "So getting our kids in school now is the next important step that we can have for the education for our children."
As for the next step, students in grades 4th through 8th will start in-person learning around March 15, 2021 and grades 9th through 12th will return on March 29.
WBZ NewsRadio's James Rojas (@JamesRojasWBZ) reports.