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'The Facts Don't Support It': Baker Against All Massachusetts Schools Starting Fully Remote

BOSTON (CBS) -- What will reopening look like for Massachusetts schools this fall? Gov. Charlie Baker indicated at a Friday news conference that he doesn't want all schools in the state to be starting fully remote.

School districts are being asked to prepare for three potential scenarios: A full reopening, remote-only learning or a hybrid model. Baker said the vast majority of communities in Massachusetts have coronavirus transmission rates low enough to allow for in-person learning.

"To say everybody should go remote. . . the facts don't support it, the data doesn't support it and the science doesn't support it," Baker said.

The CDC says "children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults" based on available evidence. But the state's two largest teachers' unions are calling for remote-only learning across Massachusetts because of the uptick in coronavirus cases and concerns about social distancing, access to coronavirus testing and ventilation.

"It's become clear in the last few weeks that an in-person return to schools would unacceptably put the health and safety of our students, their families, and educators at risk," the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts said in a statement earlier this week. "Parents, grandparents, and educators – maybe even students – would die."

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Baker argued that remote-only learning in the fall will present new challenges not seen in the spring.

"When we went to remote back in March, all those kids and all those teachers knew each other," he said. "For anyone who opens remote straight out the gate, you're talking about a bunch of kids and a bunch of teachers who won't know each other at all."

Baker said he's especially concerned about kids in kindergarten through third grade, who he said are "least likely to be infected in the first place," not learning how to read.

"Trying to teach those kids how to read remotely. . .I mean that's not how you teach kids how to read," he said.



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