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155 Boston School Employees Out Sick Following Winter Break

BOSTON (CBS) – More than 150 Boston Public Schools staff members are out sick ahead of the first day back from winter break, and the number is expected to grow as more employees take at-home COVID tests provided by the state.

Mayor Michelle Wu and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brenda Cassellius were in Dorchester handing out COVID tests Monday morning.

The city is working to distribute about 10,000 tests and masks that are available for every teacher and staff member in the district.

Students are scheduled to return to the classroom on Tuesday.

Cassellius said 40 staff members called out sick on Saturday, and an additional 115 did the same on Sunday ahead of the return to the classroom. Cassellius said this is a higher number of sick calls than the district normally deals with at this time of year.

"It certainly does make for quite a challenge this week," Cassellius said.

The superintendent said the goal is to keep all schools open for in-person learning, but that situations would be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Cassellius said many central office employees are licensed teachers, including herself.

"If I have to go out and teach in a classroom, I'm going to do that. But our goal is to keep classes going and keep students in person," she said.

Wu said it is critical for the city to continue increasing its vaccination rate. She also expressed frustration that in many cases, people are waiting for hours to receive a COVID test at locations in the city.

"It's absolutely unacceptable that in the City of Boston our residents have been having to wait two, three-plus hours to get a test to stay safe and keep their family and community safe," Wu said. "Today we have inauguration. Right after that I'll be getting together with our team to be sure we're addressing increasing the number of testing sites and the capacity at sites, but also speeding up the operations of each line. There's no reason why in the cold people need to stand and wait for three hours. There's better ways to address it, and we'll be getting going right away."

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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