Using a newly created color-coded map to rank the coronavirus risk levels in each Massachusetts community, Governor Charlie Baker said Tuesday that many municipalities have a low-enough risk level to bring children back to school — at least part-time.
The map breaks down communities into four risk levels, from highest risk to lowest: red, yellow, green, or white. Just four communities have been marked with red to represent the highest level of risk: Chelsea, Everett, Lynn, and Revere.
A total of 33 communities are considered to be at moderate or high risk of the coronavirus.
Baker said Tuesday that communities in the two lowest risk categories should feel confident that they can open schools, at least on a hybrid basis that would incorporate both in-person instruction with remote learning.
“We would certainly hope that based on this data, if you’re in a green or a white community, I can’t imagine a good reason not to go back, whether it’s full-time or in some sort of a hybrid because for all intents and purposes, you meet all the benchmarks that are being used across the country and across New England to make decisions about whether it’s safe to go back to school,” Baker said during a press conference at the State House.
He added that “contextually, those communities are in a perfectly appropriate place to have kids back.”
Many parents across Massachusetts agree with Baker’s position that in communities where it’s safe, students should return to full-time, in-person school. Over the past two weeks, more than half of Massachusetts’ cities and towns have seen a rate of less than 1 percent of residents testing positive for the coronavirus.
Baker has repeatedly emphasized that he’d like to get as many children back to the classroom as possible. During a press conference last week, he rejected the idea that he should require all districts to move instruction online this fall.
The state’s largest teachers’ unions, on the other hand, have been pushing for all school districts to begin the year remotely, citing concerns about ventilation systems and having enough space in classrooms to properly social distance.
Many large school districts in Massachusetts, including Cambridge, Somerville, Medford, Malden, Lynn, and Weymouth, have voted to begin the year remotely for most students.