CHELSEA (CBS) – Most Massachusetts high schools returned to five days of in-person learning Monday.
On April 27, the commissioner of the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Jeffrey Riley, said that all high schools must return to full-time, in-person instruction. Parents still maintain the option to have their children learn remotely.READ MORE: Georgetown School Officials Investigating Allegation Of Racial Slurs Following Fight During Football Game
“We went from pajamas to getting dressed again,” joked Chelsea mom Tanairi Garcia.
Garcia’s 15-year-old daughter returned to the classroom for the first time in 14 months. Tanairi believes her daughter will benefit from seeing her friends and teachers but she also questions the return with just six weeks of learning.
Chelsea was one of the hardest hit communities by the pandemic. Nearly 1 in 5 residents tested positive for COVID-19 and roughly 50 percent of parents are choosing to keep their children remote until the end of the year.
Tanairi worries about her daughter who has an autoimmune disease but says she trusts in social distancing and other protective measures.READ MORE: Julianne Nicholson, Medford Native, Wins Supporting Actress Emmy For 'Mare Of Easttown'
“They need that interaction. She needs it. So hopefully, she’ll be fine,” she said.
The return to the classroom also comes with logistical challenges.
In Andover, the district ordered tents to teach high schoolers outside. Interim Superintendent Dr. Claudia Bach said social distancing inside the high school is difficult. The building capacity is 1400 students and 1500 are returning to in-person learning.
“I knew that the kids needed to be back together and I think even this very short period is important,” Bach said.MORE NEWS: CVS To Hire 1,100 New Employees In Massachusetts Ahead Of Winter
Despite the challenges, many educators agree that any in person learning is beneficial to kids. According to a MassINC poll from earlier this spring, 60 percent of parents said they were very or somewhat concerned about their kids’ mental health.