Many of the state's elementary school students are back in classrooms this week for full-time, in-person learning.

Watertown Superintendent Dede Galdston said there's joy in the buildings as kids get used to being back in school with their friends and teachers. Initially, there had been some questions about how spacing would work out — particularly for lunch time — but Galdston says those details have seemingly come together.

"It's interesting because we've been in a model for probably the last two decades of grouping kids together in small groups at their desks and forming circles," said Galdston. "But when you actually have 20 students in rows, the rooms fill up pretty quickly. But we were able to do so, and with really relatively little shifting in terms of students and teachers and classrooms. It was a challenge, to say the least."

But not all districts welcomed students back on Monday. A handful were granted waivers to delay in-person learning.

Chelsea has been a hotspot for the virus since last spring. As a result, schools in the city have been fully remote for over a year.

Superintendent Almi Abeyta said some elementary school students will start next Monday, with others slowly transitioning back over the next month. But she said roughly 45% of families are choosing to remain in remote learning.

"Our families and our community have had a friend, an uncle, an aunt, a brother, a mother, a grandparent or someone who's close to them who has had COVID," Abeyta said. "There's a bit more hesitancy to come back. They don't feel safe. One of the things we're having to do is make sure that we're letting our families know here are all the things we have in place to keep students safe."

Click on the audio player above to listen to the full episode.


Almi Abeyta - 1:43
Dede Galdston - 15:35