By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – Because of the novel coronavirus, the Massachusetts Beijing Chinese Language School (MassBCLS) is closed, like virtually all other schools in Massachusetts and around the country.
The nonprofit school, which has classes for students in preschool through grade 12, meets on Sundays at the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Lake campus in Worcester.
Although now closed, the school’s students and their families are actively working to raise funds to purchase special protective gear for those in the medical profession on the front lines; specifically, face shields and N-95 respirator face masks.
Weichu Xu is the school’s principal as well as an assistant professor of chemistry at Worcester State University.
“The virus has affected everybody’s lives,” he said.
“We are all in this together to fight the virus…We need to focus and unite together,” he added.
The school’s initial goal was $5,000, he said, but they have exceeded this amount and are at $8,000. They are hoping to reach the $10,000 mark.
MassBCLS focuses on the Chinese language, mathematics, and art. The school organizes an annual Chinese New Year Celebration in conjunction with the Shrewsbury Public Schools and St. John’s High School Chinese classes and is held each year at Oak Middle School in Shrewsbury. This year’s celebration was not held due to concerns over the COVID-19 virus.
Xu noted that he has had the backing from others in his department at Worcester State University as well as from community leaders in Shrewsbury such as State Rep. Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) and School Committee member Jason Palitsch who have each contributed to the fund.
“My students asked me with tears in the eyes, ‘When can we go back to the classroom?’” he added. “I tell them, ‘Idon’t have an answer right now, but hopefully in May?’”
For more information, visit: www.MassBCLS.org. The Massachusetts Beijing Chinese language school is accepting donations through Zelle at Bank of America: MassBCLS@MassBCLS.org, or by check made payable to MassBCLS. Their mailing address is P.O. Box 562, Shrewsbury, MA 01545.