The back-to-school season in Massachusetts "is off to a fine start," Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday as his administration continued its multi-day push around the importance of in-person learning in communities where COVID-19 risks are classified as low.

Education officials from Quincy, which Baker said was one of the first school districts to reopen in-person this summer to serve students with disabilities and special needs, joined the governor for a State House press conference, as did Jeff Riley, commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Baker said "some of the most potent and powerful and poignant mail" he's received has come from parents of children with special needs, often with "a significant plea for the return to in-person education."

The start of school has been emotional and complicated this fall, with districts juggling issues including the educational needs of students, student and teacher safety, and the ability to effectively implement new public health precautions in older buildings.

Decisions around reopening schools have largely been left to local officials, though the education department last month issued guidance on how it expected schools to proceed based on municipal-level COVID-19 cases and spread.

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