Boston Public Schools plan to invite even more students back into the classroom after 1,700 students return to in-person learning next week, Superintendent Brenda Cassellius told Boston Public Radio on Wednesday.

"We continue to work with our high-priority task force. That will continue to meet until all (high-priority) students are back in school, which we’re hoping to do after the winter break, then to begin to open our phased-in model/plan that we had for October 1," Cassellius said. Next, pre-kindergarteners would return as soon as safely possible.

The district's plan to reopen school buildings has been approved by the Boston Public Health Commission, Cassellius said, and includes safety precautions like 4,800 new air purifier units, additional personal protective equipment for teachers and more testing.

Last week, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he did not think more schools would reopen until after the winter break. Now, 32 buildings will be open as of next week, with nearly 2,000 of the district's more than 50,000 students set to return to some in-person learning.

After Boston's positive COVID-19 rates jumped to above 5 percent in October, the city reverted to fully remote learning. Currently, fewer than a total of 200 students are learning in person in four regular public schools. As of Dec. 3, the city's positivity rate was 6.9 percent, according tocity data. In some neighborhoods, including East Boston, Dorchester and Hyde Park, the rate is much higher.

Still, Cassellius said the emotional and academic detriments from long-term remote learning outweigh the risks of transmission in schools. The evidence on school transmission is mixed, and it varies by grade level.

"We’re often asked the question are school spaces safer somehow than a restaurant or our homes," she said. "It’s really that in schools we’re rule followers. We have a lot of rules and protocols and routines we do with children, so staff is more accustomed to enforcing those rules."

Cassellius said even with positive news around vaccine distribution, educators and families will be living with COVID-19 for many more months. Still, she believes that schooling needs to continue.

"We have to mitigate the risk the best we can. We have to balance that with the fact that children don't get another chance at their childhood," she said, while acknowledging that the response from parents remains split.

"We are a really 50-50 camp here, we have half of our parents wanting to come and half not," she said.