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'Willing To Try': Baker Stresses Need For In-Person Learning After Tour Of Carlisle School

CARLISLE (CBS) – Following a tour of a Carlisle school Thursday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker stressed the importance of getting students back into the classroom whenever possible, with COVID-19 precautions in place.

Baker, Secretary of Education James Peyser and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley toured Carlisle Public School, where students are learning in-person.

"The data is pretty clear on this. Kids in schools are not where the vast majority of community transmission takes place," Baker told reporters.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker tours a Carlisle school. (WBZ-TV)

Baker, Peyser and Riley have been pushing for more districts to move away from full remote learning and switch to a hybrid format to get more children back in schools in communities where COVID cases are not in the high-risk category.

Last Friday, the governor announced updated coronavirus metrics for cities and towns aimed at getting kids back in school.

Under the new methodology, the most recent color-coded data shows 16 red high-risk communities. The week before, using different metrics, 121 communities were listed in the red zone.

There are about 450,000 public school students in Massachusetts. Last week, school districts reported 154 COVID cases among students and 98 among staff members.

"We've tried very hard as a state to provide people with a lot of guidance and resources, but we recognize and understand that the decision about the 'how' is ultimately going to get made at the local level," said Baker.

"When you're dealing with change you need people who are willing to try. And it's very clear that (in Carlisle), people are willing to try."

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