Mixed Reaction To Plan For Bringing Students Back To School

Gov. Baker and education officials announced a plan to bring students back to school full time by April. WBZ-TV's Nick Emmons reports.

Video Transcript

- New push tonight to get kids back into the classroom full-time. The idea of having students in school five days a week is getting pushback from some and strong support from others. The state's education commissioner has proposed a plan that starts with elementary students heading back. WBZ's Nick Emmons has the details tonight.

NICK EMMONS: Well, today Governor Charlie Baker made it clear that he believes there's no substitute for in-person learning and he wants to see kids back in classrooms in a matter of weeks.

CHARLIE BAKER: It's time to set our sights on eliminating remote learning by April and starting with elementary schools.

NICK EMMONS: Governor Charlie Baker says it's time to get students across the state out of living rooms and into classrooms. Commissioner of Education Jeffrey Riley says the plan would be to start with elementary students. Riley points to lower case numbers, more testing options, and the vaccine rollout as reasons to move ahead.

MERRIE NAJIMY: What the commissioner is doing is waving a magic wand, saying the problems are solved.

NICK EMMONS: The Massachusetts Teachers Association President Merrie Najimy believes this move to bring students back when teachers haven't been vaccinated shows a callous disregard for safety.

MERRIE NAJIMY: Vaccination of educators is not in sight. To have full in-person learning contradicts the science of six feet of distancing.

NICK EMMONS: Parents would have the option to have their kids learn remotely through the end of the year. But Somerville parent Leah Bloom says remote learning is no longer an option for her third grade son.

LEAH BLOOM: It was really traumatic for him. And he was definitely not learning anything.

NICK EMMONS: She says it got so bad she quit working last year so she could homeschool her son. Eventually, she enrolled him in a small private school where he's been for the past five weeks.

LEAH BLOOM: He has peers who he can interact with without a screen in between them.

NICK EMMONS: It's a feeling she hopes more students and families across the state will experience come April.

LEAH BLOOM: And the difference is night and day. He has his life back.

NICK EMMONS: And Commissioner Riley says he will now present his plan to the school board which will then vote on it in the coming weeks. In Boston, I'm Nick Emmons, WBZ News.