By Kristina Rex

WORCESTER (CBS) – The Worcester Public Schools system will start the 2020-2021 school year with full remote learning, after a school committee vote Thursday night. The deadline for schools to submit their COVID-19 reopening plans to the state is Friday.

In Worcester, teachers will have the choice of whether they teach students remotely from their classrooms or from their homes. School will be remote until at least December, according to the school committee, as the city spends $15 million to upgrade school ventilation systems.

In the meantime, the committee says all students who need one will have access to a Google Chromebook and a WiFi hotspot to continue remote learning.

“In my heart, I think it’s the right decision,” Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty said in the virtual meeting. “We worked hard to get there; we worked over three months to make this decision. I think it’s the right decision.”

The decision was made in part because of the ever-changing color-coded state COVID-19 risk map, which recently moved Worcester from the “green zone” to the “yellow zone.”

After the first quarter, the schools will reevaluate what comes next — which will likely be a hybrid model.

“I’m for it,” Worcester parent Christopher Collazo told WBZ as he watched his two daughters play at a local park. “I would rather them be in school, obviously, but given the situation I think it’s the best case scenario right now.”

He does worry about how he and his wife will work while watching their 10 and 7-year-olds while in school. “It’s tricky,” he said. His daughters, on the other hand, are taking the news in stride. “It’s OK with me,” his 10-year-old said. “I’m just going to miss my friends.”

Kristina Rex

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