MALDEN (CBS) -- A group of parents from Boston drove to the DESE headquarters in Malden on Tuesday, calling for the increased COVID protocols in classrooms. With horns blaring and signs plastered to their hoods and windows, parents hoped to grab the attention of state education officials who are holding their monthly meeting.
"This is one of the only ways that we know to get our voices heard," one parent told WBZ-TV.
The group called BPS Families for COVID Safety said they've been trying to get a meeting with education officials for months without any luck. Now, they're trying a new approach with a caravan of cars and testifying in front of state Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley.
"There's a gross disconnect between those who are making decisions and the everyday lived experience of folks like myself," the parent continued.
At the meeting on Tuesday, officials explained a new option for COVID testing: districts that have pool testing can also now provide at-home tests for students who request one.
"For students in schools with pool testing, they have the option of having twice a week surveillance testing once pool in school and once with the at home test," said Deputy Commissioner of Education Russell Johnston.
But parents say that isn't good enough. "We're calling on the Baker administration and DESE to fix pool testing. We need twice weekly pool testing, we need opt-out systems so that more students are participating," said parent Sarah Horsley.
They're also asking for high-quality masks for all students and staff, ventilation and filtration in areas where students are eating, and to make remote learning an option that counts toward the 180 days of required instruction.
"We're calling for flexibility, to be able to implement remote learning when necessary," said parent Suleika Soto.
On Tuesday, Commissioner Riley said that the data points to Massachusetts being past the peak of the Omicron surge but that they still need to be vigilant and that's why he extended the mask mandate for schools to the end of February.
Parents say they will continue to hold protests until their voices are heard.
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