It will be a fully remote start to the school year in the largest school district in western Massachusetts.
The Springfield School Committee voted unanimously Thursday night to have remote classes only for the district’s 26,000 students through at least the first marking period in November.
School Committee member Peter Murphy said it was not an easy choice.
" Remote learning is going to be difficult for many of our single parents, and many of our working parents and guardians and grandparents, but under the circumstances it is the best possible option," said Murphy.
The Baker Administration is urging schools to prioritize in-person learning in back-to-school plans.
Teachers’ unions want remote-only instruction.
School Committee member LaTonia Naylor said without knowing the physical status of each school building it is too great a risk to allow students and staff back into the schools.
" For us to even dare say anything but remote at this standpoint is to say we are willing to jeopardize the lives of our kids and our families, " said Naylor during Thursday night's committee meeting that was held remotely.
A consultant has been hired to evaluate the ventilation systems in all 57 school buildings in Springfield. The results are expected in about six weeks.
Acknowledging that remote learning last spring was “disjointed,” Springfield School Superintendent Dan Warwick said the remote program for the fall will be significantly different.
"The remote model we put in place in the spring was an emergency structured model with certain conditions for staff and students which are going to be changed so there is going to be a much more robust remote model offered," Warwick said during a virtual town hall Tuesday night on school reopening plans.
Each of the district’s 26,000 students will be given laptops.
Deals have been struck with Comcast and T-Mobile to provide broadband internet access to Springfield families that currently do not have it.