BOSTON — All public elementary schools in Massachusetts will be required to open for full-time, in-person learning by April 5, while middle schools will be required to do so April 28, the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced Tuesday.
No reopening date was provided for high schools, but the department said districts would be given two weeks’ notice and should start planning now to reopen high schools.
The announcement comes days after state Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley was given the authority to determine when hybrid and remote learning models no longer will count toward student learning hours across the state.
School districts can apply for a waiver if they do not think it’s safe to open under the state’s plan, but Riley said they would be given only “for a limited set of circumstances.”
Parents will have the option to keep their children in a virtual learning model through the end of the school year.
The Massachusetts Teachers Association has said reopening decisions should be left to local school committees. Critics of the state’s move to require full-time, in-person schooling have said that such decisions are best made at the local level, where district officials have more information about issues such as how many students can safely fit in a particular classroom.
About 20 percent of the state’s districts remain in remote-only learning.
Gov. Charlie Baker has announced that Massachusetts teachers will be eligible to register for a coronavirus vaccine starting Thursday, but he warned that demand far exceeds supply.
Baker administration officials have said that the timing is right because vaccination is underway, COVID-19 public health metrics have shown improvement, and more is now known about mitigation measures and the impacts of remote learning.
A steep reduction in the amount of traffic on Boston-area roadways during the coronavirus pandemic has dropped the city from first to fourth on a list of the nation’s most congested cities, according to a new study.
Boston drivers lost 48 hours in traffic congestion in 2020, compared with 101 hours in 2019, according to the INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard released Monday.
The only U.S. cities with worse traffic last year were New York, Philadelphia and Chicago. The most congested city in the world in 2020 was Bogota, Colombia, according to the study.
Fewer hours on the road led to more money in the pockets of commuters. Boston experienced one of the largest cost savings, with drivers saving more than $1,000 because of the reduction in traffic delays brought on by the sharp decline in vehicle-miles traveled, according to the report.
Commuters shouldn’t get used to less congestion and shorter commutes, Chris Dempsey of the advocacy group Transportation for Massachusetts told the Boston Herald.
“Whether we’re ranked first in the country or fourth in the country or 10th in the country, congestion is a problem that remains worth fixing,” he said.