By Bill Shields

BOSTON (CBS) – Since last September, most of the Catholic elementary school kids in Massachusetts have been learning in person. Middle school students, too.

Educators have done it with strict adherence to COVID protocols and everybody buying in. “The building blocks of education that a young person needs in elementary school years is best conducted in person,” said Dan Roy, the Superintendent of the Archdiocese of Fall River.

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While the state’s public schools continue to swing between hybrid learning and remote, the Catholic system is moving along with in-person classes, emphasizing the need for elementary kids to be in the building.

“We’re making sure that the nurses are very attentive to anyone who might be displaying any kind of signs of COVID,” said Steve Perla, former superintendent in both the Fall River Archdiocese and Worcester. “The best way to teach is to have those students in front of them. Certainly we can do some things remotely, but in particular, those primary grade students it’s really important from an educational perspective, a social development perspective.”

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COVID numbers have stayed low within the Catholic system, so they kept the young kids in class.

Now, they are keeping a watchful eye on the high schools, hoping to bring all those students back into class as soon as possible. But it’s a different animal with the teenagers.

“Our high schools have space considerations, they have more frequent movement over the course of the day,” Roy said.

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Jeffrey Riley, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, announced Tuesday the state aims to have all elementary school students learning in person five days a week by April.

Bill Shields