Editor's Note: A previous version of this article included sensitive information about an unnamed student. It has been removed at the family's request.

Several mothers attended the Somerset School Committee meeting on Monday night and demanded that their children be allowed to return to school full time for the first time since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago.

Jess Machado, whose children attend public schools in Somerset, said on my Tuesday program that many parents are frustrated seeing private and parochial school students back in the classroom full time while public school students are not.

Machado said her two children were allowed to return to the classroom four out of five days each week when she proved to school officials that their grades suffered because they could not adapt to remote learning. She said most other students have a hybrid schedule that splits learning between the classroom and the home.

Machado, a former school committee candidate and chair of the Somerset Republican Town Committee, said many children have fallen behind where they should be in their education due to time missed in the classroom. She said there was a considerable downtime between the start of the pandemic and when remote learning was initiated that added to the problem.

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Machado said many children are isolated, unable to socialize with their peers, leading to depression and other emotional issues.

Machado and the others are considering voting against the town's budget at the annual town meeting in May if full-time in-school learning is not restored by then. Citizens do have the power to force change and should not be shy about executing that power.

Our children belong in school full-time, and classes must return to normal as quickly as possible. We've done enough damage to our kids. It's time to knock it off now.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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