More than 1,000 Boston Public Schools teachers, bus drivers, and other staffers reportedly called out for work at schools Tuesday because of COVID-19 and other reasons.
School Superintendent Brenda Cassellius said 1,074 staff members were out, including 461 classroom teachers and 52 bus drivers, NBC Boston reported.
Boston Public Schools returned to in-person learning Tuesday after classes were delayed by a day to allow students and teachers more time for testing coming back from the winter break, the news outlet reported.
According to the Boston Teachers Union, there were issues with the COVID testing rollout over the weekend, including some union teachers getting expired test kits from the school district, the news outlet reported.
The kits had an expiration date of November 2021, the union said. They said they were told the expired tests could be exchanged Wednesday for up-to-date rapid tests.
Cassellius countered the the expiration dates on the boxes have been extended a year so they should still work properly, the news outlet reported.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu visited Boston area schools Monday and Tuesday and helped with the rollout of masks and COVID-19 tests for distribution to staff and students.
On Monday, Wu also warned the schools were prepared for major staffing shortages but were doing everything possible to avoid a remote learning situation, NBC Boston reported — and also that there would be bus delays due to what she called a historic shortage of drivers.
"We’ll assess the health and safety issues presented as well as the operational issues that we may already have, the staffing issues," she said Monday, the news outlet noted. "We have our central office teams, many of us are licensed teachers, myself included, if I have to go out and teach in a classroom I’m going to do that. But our goal is to keep classes going and to keep students in person."
According to NBC Boston, the city said over the weekend they had 155 sick calls from teachers and staff, and that was before getting the results back from the at-home test kits the state gave out. They had said all along that they expected that number to increase this week.
Jonathan Palumbo, a Boston Public Schools spokesman, also addressed the Tuesday absences in an emailed statement to the Boston Globe.
"As the Mayor and Superintendent stated during their press availability this morning, we saw more than 1,000 school staff absences, which is inclusive of all people who work in schools — and not all of those are due to COVID, absences are being seen for a multitude of reasons," Palumbo said.
Palumbo said the school system has "been in close contact with school leaders over the day yesterday and throughout the night into this morning to cover as many absences as possible. We deployed 60 central office staff to cover core functions in schools and will stay in communication with schools and families all day."
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