Massachusetts Mayors Diverge On In-Person Learning Timeline

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The state's plan to phase out remote learning by the spring is getting mixed reactions from some of Massachusetts' mayors.

Massachusetts Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley announced on Tuesday that the department aims to start with younger groups, planning to have all elementary school students back in the classroom five days a week by April.

The Massachusetts Teacher's Association spoke out against the announcement, saying that the move shows "callous disregard" for school staff and students.

"Governor Charlie Baker and Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley should go back to the drawing board," MTA President Merrie Najimy said in a statement. "This time they must actually talk to the educators, educators’ unions, parents, school committee members and other community leaders most impacted by their surprise and unwelcome announcement, which seems timed largely to distract public attention from the administration’s failed vaccine rollout."

For the most part, many leaders and education groups agree that there is no substitute for in-person learning and kids belong in classrooms -- but several disagree on the best plan to achieve that goal.

Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone tells WBZ NewsRadio's James Rojas that he believes state has not presented a real plan so far.

"It is again you know, the sad example that there's been no collaboration and coordination on how to do this together and safely," Curtatone said. "In this case [collaboration with] educators in schools districts, and local boards of health and municipalities."

However Braintree Mayor Charles Kokoros disagrees, and believes it’s time to start planning to make the switch to in-person learning.

"The declining [Covid-19] numbers that we're seeing, as well as the vaccinations that are going on, I think that this is a great opportunity for us to get our children back into the school system on a full time basis," Kokoros said. "It's time for us to move forward with this to make sure they're getting the best education they can."

Braintree High School has set a tentative date of March 15 to return to in-person learning five days a week, and April 1 for elementary and middle school students.

WBZ NewsRadio's James Rojas (@JamesRojasWBZ) reports.

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Written by Rachel Armany

(Photo: Getty Images)

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