Boston and Worcester get waivers to delay resumption of full in-person classes

WORCESTER, MA - 3/22/2021: 0328UNIVERSITYSCHOOLS .....  Desks removed from classrooms left in a hallway for social distancing during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic at the University Park Campus School in Worcester. Students will soon be attending in person classes at the University Park Campus School. The students are learning now remotely during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The campus school building is open for teachers, who are teaching their classes from their computers in the classroom. (David L Ryan/Globe Staff ) SECTION:  IDEAS
The University Park Campus School in Worcester. –David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe

BOSTON (AP) — The public school systems in Massachusetts’ two largest cities have been granted more time by state education officials to ready their classrooms for the return of elementary school-age students to full-time, in-person lessons.

Boston and Worcester, both granted exemptions Wednesday, are among 64 districts statewide that Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley has exempted from a mandatory April 5 reopening for pre-K through fifth grade.

Boston plans to bring students up to eighth grade back on April 26, while Worcester will bring them back on May 3, district officials said.

“This updated timeline ensures that we have adequate time to prepare facility and transportation modifications and allows us time to communicate information to families in a timely manner,” Boston Superintendent Brenda Cassellius wrote in a letter to parents.

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“In addition, every day more and more BPS staff members are receiving COVID-19 vaccinations, which will help to make our school communities feel more safe and comfortable for students, staff and families.”

Riley encouraged Worcester to begin full-time in-person learning earlier than May 3 if possible.

Riley denied waiver requests from nine districts, including five that had requested to delay the return of all students until past April 26: Wareham, Easthampton, Gloucester, Malden, and Hill View Montessori Charter School.

The state has directed middle schools to fully reopen by April 28, while a return date for high schools has not been scheduled.

Parents retain the right to keep their children in full-time distance learning for the remainder of the school year.

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