BOSTON (CBS) – Boston Superintendent of Schools Brenda Cassellius said the district is “running on fumes” trying to navigate the staffing and safety issues the latest COVID surge has presented.

Cassellius said Boston Public Schools is taking every step to avoid remote learning amid the surge.

“We are listening, learning, adjusting as needed and planning ahead so we can be prepared for our future in case we need to have additional mitigation efforts,” Cassellius said during a Wednesday School Committee meeting.

The latest COVID surge has taken a toll on the district and its staff, with more than 1,000 daily absences among teachers and staff in the city.

The Boston Public Health Commission and the district have submitted a formal request to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education requesting twice-weekly surveillance testing for both vaccinated and unvaccinated students and staff.

Students announced they are planning a walkout Friday to send a message to the state.

“This protest is not directly aimed at the district but at the state and DESE. We want to be safe and receive our education at the same time. Main concern is we want remote learning to count toward our 180 days of learning,” one of the walkout organizers told the School Committee.

Boston schools recently put a pause on winter sports because of the rise in COVID cases. Cassellius said practice can resume on Monday, and competition can resume a week later if case numbers keep going down and students agree to test twice a week.

School officials also announced the district plans to give every student and staff member rapid tests before February vacation.

The district did something similar before winter break. Every student went home with a rapid test kit from the state and was asked to take one the day before returning to school.

Nick Giovanni