Attleboro schools face challenges if full in-person learning plan is approved by state

School Updates

ATTLEBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — Friday, the state education commissioner will ask for the authority to phase out hybrid and remote learning in Massachusetts schools.

State officials are hoping to start a phased-in return to full in-person learning starting with younger grades in April.

Attleboro school officials say there will be some challenges if the plan is approved. The district has been in a hybrid model since January.

In a letter to families after the school committee approved returning to a hybrid model in January, Superintendent David Sawyer wrote it was the district’s “sincere hope that we will be able to remain in the hybrid mode until an eventual return to full, in-person learning.”

However, Sawyer said several factors outside of the district’s control continued to threaten this goal.

The most significant hazards, Sawyer wrote in January, were potential worsening viral conditions in the city, ongoing cases of in-school exposure, potential arctic temperatures in February, and staffing shortages caused by safety protocols.

Sawyer told WBZ he supports kids in the classroom full-time, but that there are additional logistical challenges.

“Attleboro has large class sizes making distancing challenging even three feet,” he said.

Sawyer says lunch is another issue, because finding enough space to accommodate all students, who need to remove their masks to eat. may not be possible.

President of the Attleboro Education Association Joseph Amaral said the proposed April return may still be too soon.

“Part of the plan included waiting for all teachers to be vaccinated. What seems like arbitrary date of April doesn’t allow thoughtful approach that would have occurred,” Amaral said.

The state’s education commissioner has argued there has been a significant improvement in COVID-19 health metrics in Massachusetts, in addition to more testing in schools and the ongoing vaccine rollout.

However, school districts could petition to be remote if the plan is approved.

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