Several School Districts Delay Return To Classes For COVID Testing

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Multiple school districts in Massachusetts will be closed or have delayed openings Monday for the first day of classes following winter break as a precaution to allow for more COVID testing.

Districts canceling school Monday include Lexington, Burlington, Sharon, Lawrence, Randolph, Wareham, and Brookline, according to WBZ TV. Cambridge Public Schools also plan to close on Monday and Tuesday. Brockton, Waltham, Somerville, Leominster, Newburyport, and Woburn will all have two-hour delays to allow for COVID testing. Arlington will give students an early release on Monday and Tuesday.

For several school districts, including Cambridge, the goal of closing or delaying openings Monday is to allow teachers and students to get COVID tests prior to returning from winter break. The state previously distributed 200,000 at-home rapid COVID test kits to school districts to distribute to teachers and staff. Those tests were supposed to arrive last Friday but were delayed until the weekend.

Read More: Select Boston City Workers Will Work Remotely To Slow COVID-19 Spread

While testing was not explicitly required, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education urged all teachers and staff to use one of the tests in the testing kit no more than 24 hours prior to their return to class. The Massachusetts Teachers Association criticized the move by the DESE, and called it a "last-minute scramble" and a "logistical nightmare."

The MTA then called for the state to cancel classes for all school districts on Monday to allow for the testing kits to be distributed and for teachers, students, and staff to use testing kits. The DESE declined to do a statewide cancellation of schools, which is what motivated many districts to either cancel or delay for Monday.

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