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Opinions Clash Over Reopening Schools In Communities With Low Coronavirus Rates

BOSTON (CBS) - A parents' group called "Bring Kids Back Massachusetts" gathered on the steps of the State House to push for schools to open their doors to students in the fall. "With the safety measures the CDC has put in place, we feel we can safely bring kids back," said Molly Phillips from Melrose.

The Massachusetts Department of Education sent a letter to superintendents across the state this week. It directs them to consult the state's new color-coded map dividing cities and towns by their COVID-19 rates. It urges lower risk communities to go with full-time in-person or hybrid learning.

"If you're in a green or a white community, I can't imagine a reason not to go back," said Governor Charlie Baker during a Tuesday news conference.

School protest
Bring Kids Back Massachusetts gathers outside State House (WBZ-TV)

"I think those comments are disappointing and really short-sighted," said Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone. Even though his city is in the lower risk green group, Somerville schools plan to start with remote learning.

Somerville High student Shanay Morales wishes she could go back in person. "I would very much like to go back to school," she told WBZ. "My mental health was seriously at the lowest point in my life during remote learning."

But Mayor Curtatone points out Somerville is only a couple miles from cities in the high-risk red zone. "Our residents interact with one another," Curtatone said. "They travel on the same transit system. You can't build a firewall against the COVID virus."

At a news conference Wednesday, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh agreed it's too soon for students and teachers to rush back into school buildings. "I would love to be all in-person five days a week, I think many people would, but we know that we can't," Walsh said. "We just know that that's not an option today, because of coronavirus."

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