Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius taught a fourth grade class Wednesday as school districts across Massachusetts struggle to reopen due to COVID-19 staff shortages. The district had more than 1,000 teachers and staff out Tuesday, and school officials said the number was expected to rise. “Full class of brilliant, amazing students,” Cassellius said in a tweet she posted with a photo of the class she is teaching at Nathan Hale Elementary School. “So engaged. We are working on poetry and fluency.”Cassellius said she found out Tuesday night that the school in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston needed coverage.”I jumped into gear and said, ‘I will clear my calendar and go over and teach a fourth grade class.’ I thought I would be teaching fifth grade, but I’ll be teaching fourth grade, so just really excited to go in and meet all my kids and teach ,” Cassellius said. Jeri Robinson, chair of the Boston School Committee, is also teaching a class at the school. It’s a similar scene across the state. Weymouth High School is closed Wednesday, and in Lawrence, the high school and pre-K could not open Tuesday because of staff shortages. After being closed Tuesday, Watertown students have a two-hour Wednesday to process pool testing results.”It’s all hands on deck — that’s how I would describe it. Everybody in the system is paying attention to this, all the attention is going. It’s highly disruptive to a normal educational environment,” said Thomas Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents. Staffing issues may continue for weeks, and Scott urged the public to have patience and understanding, saying school leaders are doing their best given the circumstances.Other school districts in the state have been taking snow days in an effort to buy more time to get students, teachers and staff tested for COVID-19 after the holiday recess, according to the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.According to the DESE spokesperson, no Massachusetts school districts have made remote learning waiver requests. The department said in the spring of 2021 that remote learning would no longer count toward required learning hours for Massachusetts schools unless a waiver is granted.The COVID-19-related staff shortages may continue to impact school districts beyond this week, but medical experts say that parents should not worry about their children’s safety when they return to the classroom.”We’re in a place where we have really good information that students are actually safer at school than not at school, and we have a number of tools in our tool kit now that we didn’t have a year ago,” said Dr. Helen Boucher, an infectious disease specialist at Tufts Medical School and the interim dean of the Tufts University School of Medicine.

Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius taught a fourth grade class Wednesday as school districts across Massachusetts struggle to reopen due to COVID-19 staff shortages.

The district had more than 1,000 teachers and staff out Tuesday, and school officials said the number was expected to rise.

“Full class of brilliant, amazing students,” Cassellius said in a tweet she posted with a photo of the class she is teaching at Nathan Hale Elementary School. “So engaged. We are working on poetry and fluency.”

Cassellius said she found out Tuesday night that the school in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston needed coverage.

“I jumped into gear and said, ‘I will clear my calendar and go over and teach a fourth grade class.’ I thought I would be teaching fifth grade, but I’ll be teaching fourth grade, so just really excited to go in and meet all my kids and teach ,” Cassellius said.

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Jeri Robinson, chair of the Boston School Committee, is also teaching a class at the school.

It’s a similar scene across the state. Weymouth High School is closed Wednesday, and in Lawrence, the high school and pre-K could not open Tuesday because of staff shortages.

After being closed Tuesday, Watertown students have a two-hour Wednesday to process pool testing results.

“It’s all hands on deck — that’s how I would describe it. Everybody in the system is paying attention to this, all the attention is going. It’s highly disruptive to a normal educational environment,” said Thomas Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents.

Staffing issues may continue for weeks, and Scott urged the public to have patience and understanding, saying school leaders are doing their best given the circumstances.

Other school districts in the state have been taking snow days in an effort to buy more time to get students, teachers and staff tested for COVID-19 after the holiday recess, according to the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

According to the DESE spokesperson, no Massachusetts school districts have made remote learning waiver requests. The department said in the spring of 2021 that remote learning would no longer count toward required learning hours for Massachusetts schools unless a waiver is granted.

The COVID-19-related staff shortages may continue to impact school districts beyond this week, but medical experts say that parents should not worry about their children’s safety when they return to the classroom.

“We’re in a place where we have really good information that students are actually safer at school than not at school, and we have a number of tools in our tool kit now that we didn’t have a year ago,” said Dr. Helen Boucher, an infectious disease specialist at Tufts Medical School and the interim dean of the Tufts University School of Medicine.





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