By Christina Hager

BOSTON (CBS) – Parents from across Massachusetts begged state education officials to get their students back into the classroom. “It is heartbreaking to watch your child struggle and have no idea how to help them,” said Melissa Bello, a mother from Needham.

She was among several parents who spoke at a meeting Tuesday held by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, known as DESE. “The schools are abandoning our children,” said David Goldstone, a father from Newton.

State Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley said the state has done everything possible to push lower-risk communities toward in-person education. “At this time, we think that most of our schools should be back in person to the greatest extent possible,” he said.

David Goldstone, a father from Newton, speaks at a DESE meeting (WBZ-TV)

But that’s not happening. Natick High School is abandoning its hybrid plan for two weeks. The superintendent said people who were exposed to the virus, “…attended and/or hosted parties with numerous students over the past two weekends despite orders from the Board of Health to quarantine.”

Hopkinton High is going fully remote for two days because a student tested positive. At Lincoln-Sudbury High, students returned Tuesday after in-school learning was delayed because students attended a large party.

Riley said the state’s new mobile testing unit can help school administrators figure out whether closures are necessary when specific cases pop up. “We’re going to go in and do some assessment of that to see if there has been spread in the school or not,” Riley said.

Another hot-button issue, MCAS, came up at the meeting. Riley said the state intends to go ahead with MCAS testing this spring.

Christina Hager

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