BOSTON (CBS) – It’s the topic among parents with school-aged children. Will they be going back to the classroom? What will the school year look like?
It’s mid-July and there are no real answers. What is certain is that from Westfield to Marshfield, families across Massachusetts are making their own decisions.
“I think at this point we would probably be most comfortable with a hybrid type of situation. Maybe a couple of days in the classroom at school and the rest distance learning,” said Matt Collins of Westfield. His 11-year-old daughter attends intermediate school.
“I have a lot of real concerns about her [my daughter’s] safety and really primarily the safety of the teachers,” said Ashley Anechiarico of Dedham. “We don’t know how the other kids’ families are dealing with quarantine.”
McHala Brophy of Worcester tells WBZ-TV, “I’ve talked to many teachers who feel as if it’s next to impossible to go back, especially in bigger school systems. What we are seeing in terms of cases in other states, it’s very scary. While Massachusetts has done well (for lack of a better word), who knows what back to school will bring.”
Rich Slattery is a single dad and a Marshfield resident. He’s hoping for a safe and reasonable re-opening, after a tough spring keeping up with distance learning and paying for child care.
“I’m hoping for it, provided it can be done with some level of responsibility,” said Slattery whose son is in the third grade. “My child care costs that I was forced to pay as a result of the pandemic exceed $2,000 a month.”
Last month, state officials released re-opening guidelines. Districts are now planning for three options: online school, in-person instruction or a hybrid of both. Over the weekend, when pressed on the federal government’s plan to help, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos insisted a full return is necessary.
“There is nothing in the data that would suggest that kids being back in school is dangerous to them,” DeVos said.
Dr. Annie Murray, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital says data does show a very small percentage of patients under the age of 19 have been infected with the virus. And those who do get sick, have mild symptoms.
Murray adds that the role children play in spreading COVID-19 is still unclear and suggests parents with children at risk get involved in mapping out a plan to return.
“There are suggestions that children can transmit it, there isn’t a lot of data to support that yet,” said Dr. Murray. “But I think it’s safest for our communities to assume that children can be asymptomatic and transmit the infection.”