A week after the Suffolk Superior Court rejected the Boston Teachers Union (BTU) request for an emergency injunction so teachers won’t be forced to teach in-person until the positive test rate in Boston goes below 4 percent, Boston Public School (BPS) Superintendent Dr. Brenda Cassellius announced all ‘in-person’ learning has been suspended until further notice.
While most BPS students have started off the school year with ‘remote’ learning there were still 1,300 ‘high-needs’ students attending schools each day along with teachers and support staff.
“This morning, the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) released data showing the citywide seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate increased to 5.7%,” said Cassellius in a letter to parents Wednesday morning. “This is an increase from 4.5% last week and from 4.1% two weeks before. Current data are showing a concerning upward trend of COVID-19 activity in the City of Boston and, out of an abundance of caution, Mayor Walsh and I have decided to suspend in-person learning for all students. Effective tomorrow, Thursday, October 22, all BPS students will learn remotely until public health data shows a downward trend in positive COVID-19 cases.”
Cassellius said BPS remains committed to providing in-person learning opportunities to students as soon as it is safe to do so, and will continue to prioritize students with the highest needs for in-person learning.
“Once the citywide seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate is below 5% for two consecutive weeks, we will begin to welcome our students with the highest needs back for in-person learning,” said Cassellius. “When the citywide seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate is below 4% for two consecutive weeks, we will restart the phase-in of in-person learning beginning with our youngest students.”
Some families received communication within the last week notifying them of their child’s in-person start date but Cassellius said that information has now unfortunately changed due to the spike in COVID.
“All BPS students will learn remotely effective Thursday, October 22,” said Cassellius. “We will provide you with any update to our plans as soon as they develop. In addition, schools will work with families who may need to pick up technology or other personal items students may have left at school. We are also exploring options for providing services for our students with complex disabilities and will update families with more information in the coming days.”
The City of Boston has increased testing efforts and outreach to impacted neighborhoods. More information about COVID-19, including testing sites and community resources, is available boston.gov/coronavirus. For more information about remote learning, technology resources and free meal sites, visit bostonpublicschools.org/reopening.
“I understand that these are uncertain times,” said Cassellius. “I thank you again for your patience, flexibility, and collaboration as we all work to provide enriching learning experiences for our students during this challenging time. Stay safe and healthy.”