By Beth Germano

LOWELL (CBS) – There have been few easy answers to how students will continue their education in the fall, but working parent Ibis McHugh hopes her daughter Giselle will return to the classroom in Lowell.

“I think it would help a lot of parents like me who have to go to work,” said McHugh.

One Lowell fifth-grader, Giselle, said she hopes to return to school in the fall. (WBZ-TV)

But to opt for in-person learning parents need to fill out an application between August 19-27. If it’s determined there aren’t enough seats, families will be entered into a lottery system.

“Given the numbers we have and needs of kids, it might not be feasible,” said a Lowell special needs teacher who identified herself as Patty.

Students with special needs and education plans will be given preference for seats, and Patty worries about division. “What if I don’t have a high needs child, but I need my child in school because of work? I don’t have daycare or whatever, it’s not fair to me.”

Any in-classroom learning is already being challenged by the Lowell teachers union, which argues the school buildings are too old and need third-party inspections. Until then, they hope parents won’t opt for their children in the classroom.

Lowell classrooms prepare for social distancing. (WBZ-TV)

“We’re more concerned about health issues faced by students and staff if buildings aren’t deemed to be suitable for occupation,” said Paul Georges, of United Teachers for Lowell.

As for a lottery, schools will have fewer seats because of social distancing guidelines, and Patty worries it will be difficult to plan ahead. “I’m very anxious. I have a lot of fears and concerns for my kids and their families.”

Families will be notified of their school placement about a week after the application process closes.

Beth Germano

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