The mayor of Leominster on Monday declared a public health emergency in an effort to get kids back to school amid the coronavirus pandemic, arguing remote learning has had a detrimental impact on children’s learning, news outlets reported.
During an emergency Leominster School Committee meeting Mayor Dean Mazzarella called on Monday, the top city official argued the community has low COVID-19 numbers and that K-12 students learning at home is causing a crisis, WBZ reported.
Mazzarella claimed it is safe for in-person learning to start again in Leominster, according to WHDH’s reporting. State coronavirus metrics have put the Central Massachusetts city in the “green” on the commonwealth’s map that looks at communities’ transmission risks.
Leominster’s infection rate last week stood at 1.8 positive cases per 100,000 residents, according to Massachusetts Department of Public Health data.
As of Sept. 23, the community had reported a total of 774 COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, 10 of which were identified in the previous 10 days, DPH data showed.
“We’re at green, we’re at the lowest numbers we had,” Mazzarella told WBZ on Monday. “It’s time to get kids back into school, and if they’re not going to do it, then I’m going to do it.”
Despite the city’s low coronavirus caseload, Leominster schools are operating fully remotely. The community’s school committee previously voted to kick off the academic year remotely and remain that way for at least the first quarter, WHDH reported.
School committee members have said they are thinking about shifting to a hybrid model of in-person and remote learning on November 9, according to WBZ’s reporting.
Mazzarella’s declaration comes roughly a week after Massachusetts Department of Education sent a letter to 16 communities and school districts deemed low-risk COVID-19 areas, pressuring them to return to in-person learning.
Department of Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley wrote the agency’s guidelines only recommend remote learning for communities designated as “high risk.”
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Massachusetts Department of Education urges 16 school districts in ‘low-risk’ COVID-19 communities to return to in-person learning
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