BOSTON (CBS) – The debate over a return to in-person school rages on, as we learn of students and school employees diagnosed with COVID-19. One kindergarten teacher is torn on the problem. He wants schools to re-open in the fall, but knows first-hand the dangers of the coronavirus.
“The only lingering effect I’m feeling now is fatigue,” said Dan Deneen from his Cape Cod home.
Deneen tested positive in late March and was hospitalized for a week and once he returned home, had to quarantine for a month. “I would feel in my lungs a sensation that I never felt before, just a heaviness,” Deneen said.
The veteran educator, who is now teaching a kindergarten class in Sandwich, feels a phased re-opening plan is the safest way to return to school.
“What happens when you wind up with three, five, ten, teachers who can’t come to school for a month? Who’s going to teach those classes? ” asked Deneen.
Overall, coronavirus cases in Massachusetts continue on a downward trend, but some communities are seeing spikes.
Last week, Governor Baker launched a testing program in communities with high infection rates. On Friday, Quincy school officials announced three of its staff members, two of whom were part of in-person summer programs, tested positive for COVID-19. At least 17 people, including 12 students, have now been advised to get tested and quarantine.
And in Melrose, the city’s mayor announced at least one high school student recently tested positive. Hundreds turned out to a pop-up testing site on Friday.
“This is an emergency response to an ongoing outbreak,” said the city’s health director, Ruth Clay. “We’ve had a very low case count for the last several weeks. We’ve seen an uptick. To respond aggressively we contacted the [governor’s] command center, who graciously sent us a testing team.”
Last month, the state’s education commissioner released re-opening guidelines. Now, districts are drafting plans for a potential return and mulling over three scenarios: in-person instruction, online school, or a hybrid of both.
Public school teachers have come up with their own phased proposal, as teachers union leaders warn over rushing into a return.
“We can’t possibly get everybody back in the building 100 percent and keep the community safe,” said Massachusetts Teachers Association President Merrie Najimy. “Any child or adult who contracts the virus in the building, then spreads it in their community. And once again we deepen the pandemic.”