Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Thursday that Boston pre-school and kindergarten through Grade 3 students will return to in classroom learning beginning next week.
That means an additional 7,900 in Boston Public Schools buildings, along with the nearly 7,000 high priority students who are already attending school in person.
Students in grades 4 through 8 will return on March 15, and all other students on March 29.
"It will be the first time our kids will be in school in nearly a year," Walsh said. "This is a big step for us. The positivity rate is in the right place, so getting our kids in school now is the next important step we can have for our children."
Parents can still opt for remote learning if they choose, the mayor said.
Walsh said new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to decline, and the 7-day average positivity rate of 3.4% is the lowest it has been in the city since October. Every Boston neighborhood is now below 7%, he said.
"This is all very positive news we're sharing today," he said. "It means you're slowing the spread of the virus in our neighborhoods."
But Walsh also warned that now is not the time for people to let their guard down.
"We must continue do do everything we can to protect ourselves and our communities against the virus," he said.
"I'm tired of being a teacher, a maid, everything else. I'm tired," said Boston mom Annia Janvier. "As soon as I got out of the door, their computers close, so yeah, I'm happy for schools to be open."
"They miss their friends. They miss being outside," said Estefania Gudino, another mom in Boston. "They just miss that routine."
Walsh's remarks Thursday came as 50,000 new appointments to get the coronavirus vaccine at mass vaccination sites in Massachusetts went live Thursday morning. This included sites at Boston's Fenway Park and Reggie Lewis Center.
Walsh has continued to urge all eligible residents to get vaccinated for COVID-19, despite ongoing scrutiny over the state's rollout of the vaccination process.
At his last press conference, the mayor urged restaurants to follow COVID-19 protocols, warning that the city would take swift action on businesses failing to follow capacity limits or other rules.
While the "vast majority" of restaurants were following the rules, Walsh said some had lost their licenses after inspectional services officers found violations.
"Nobody wants to shut a restaurant down, including myself, but if need be, we will," he said. "We're doing everything we can to help local businesses... but the health a safety of our residents must come first."
The mayor said the city had received over 2,000 complaint about restaurants allegedly not following COVID-19 protocol.
Restaurants in Boston are allowed to operate at 40% capacity as part of Phase 3, Step 1 of the state's reopening plan.
Walsh also asked diners to continue to follow social distancing and hygiene guidelines when visiting restaurants, including wearing masks when not eating, refraining from mingling with other tables and only dining with those within a person's bubble of close contacts.