Massachusetts governor: Positive sign students are back in the classroom

Many parents wrestled with the idea of sending their children back to the classroom with COVID cases spreading so quickly.

In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker said having students come back is a positive sign. It shows the hard work many people are doing every day to make sure your kids get the education they’re entitled to.

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Baker said there were a lot of talks last week about schools not going to open in Massachusetts on Monday, Jan. 3, after the holiday break ended.

The vast majority of school districts did. However, there were a few districts who either opened late or remained closed. Some school officials said they wanted to use the extra time to test staff using state-secured kits that arrived late.

North Adams Public Schools said they are postponing the start of their after-school programming for at least two weeks because of complications from increasing positive COVID cases.

The Hoosick Valley Regional School District said on Sunday, Jan. 2 there may be a need for an emergency closure if they can’t adequately staff their schools. This is because they are short-staffed since the start of the 2021–2022 school year and rising case numbers. The district said they could struggle to staff schools every day over the next several weeks.

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Even with how fluctuating in-person learning can be right now, Baker does expect students to get their education one way or another. He said they’ll do whatever they can to deliver on that.

"The rules here are pretty simple. We count in-person school as a school. If a school district is not open, at some point over the course of the year, they can use snow days until they run out of snow days, but they do need to provide their kids with 180 days of in-person education this year."

Baker said students are being tested, and 2,200 schools are participating in the state’s student testing programs.

COVID testing kits are hard to come by during this new surge of cases. Baker said they were able to secure 200,000 tests. They ordered them before Christmas and were distributed on January 1.

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Through a new state contract, schools can purchase additional rapid test kits. The price for extra kits ranges from $5 to $26.

Baker said there was a ton of traffic on the website last week, and those additional tests will probably start arriving later this week.

"There was all kinds of talk last week about how school wouldn’t open in Massachusetts today. School did. Pretty much across the commonwealth. There were a very small number of districts that aren’t in school," Baker said.

The state implemented a testing program called "Test and Stay" at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year.