Back To School FAQ
Answers to families’ most frequently asked questions, by category, alphabetically.
What are the plans and timetable for all schools to have HVAC?
We have installed roughly 900 AC's so far and estimate that every school will have cooling and heating by spring 2023. We are still exploring options to increase ventilation across the district for total solutions. We have implemented full HVAC in our new builds. Until then, fans and air purifiers will help aid the ventilation across the district.
What will be done if air quality levels in a classroom are not what they should be?
Our environmental teams regularly review the data and receive alerts if ratings are off. They will work with the school to determine what is going on and take any appropriate steps needed depending on the situation. (i.e. - Opening windows, adding fans, air purifiers, or adjusting mechanical systems in the space)
Have classroom air filters been changed?
School custodians have been checking purifiers and changing them and, as a rule of thumb, changing them one month before they expire. All units have been changed as of 9/2/2022 and will continue on a rolling basis by the manufacturer recommendations, including air purifiers and mechanical ventilation.
Back to School Events
When is the BTU Back to School Book Fair?
The Back to School Book Fair, sponsored by the BTU (Boston Teachers Union) is Saturday, 9/24, from 12pm to 4pm, at Carson Beach.
Is there any event coming where my child can get a backpack?
Beyond the Kindergarten Celebration at the Children's Museum, students in need may also be able to receive a backpack directly from their school. Crayons to Crayons donated to BPS and a set number of packs were made available to schools based on their Opportunity Index score. Please check with your school if you need one.
My child is new to BPS. Where do we sign up for after school?
Schools individually manage their own before- and after- school programs. Please ask your school about their offerings, hours, and fees, if any. Our community partners often offer options as well, including YMCA, YWCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, etc.
Should my child wear a mask to school?
Masking is recommended, but it is not required, except in a few instances, such as always in the nurse's office, or if returning to school after recovery. More details on our website here.
How will cluster communication work?
BPHC and BPS Health Services meet every afternoon to review positive cases. When a classroom or cohort has 3 or more positive cases, communication will be sent to the impacted classroom or cohort from the school. Recommendations for next steps will be dependent on the specific situation, but it's likely that masking will be required for 10 days for the classroom or cohort.
How will cluster communication work in high schools where students are in many different classrooms for different subjects?
High schools with positive cases will look at student schedules to ID classes shared by same students and reach out to them as a cohort.There's also a tracker in the schools they use to help plan for close contacts/communication.
How will a COVID-19 outbreak or “cluster” be defined?
A "cluster" is defined as 3 or more cases in a classroom or epidemiological cohort (for example, a field trip). Health Services, in consultation with BPHC will investigate and make recommendations such as masking and additional testing
How will "symptomatic students" be defined for testing?
Symptomatic testing is defined based on the COVID-19 symptom checklist. Consented students will be tested if the school nurse determines a test is necessary based on the symptoms the student is displaying
Does my child need to be vaccinated?
Vaccines are strongly recommended, but not required. BPS is identifying dates for vaccine clinics. Information about already scheduled clinics can be found here.
Can my kids get booster shots at the vaccine clinic at White Stadium on 9/17?
Yes. All vaccines and all doses are available at the event at White Stadium on September 17 between 11am to 3pm. Students and anyone in their family can be vaccinated that day.
What type of masks will be available for all students?
Medical/surgical (blue) masks will be available in schools in both adult and child size.
Will exposed students be required to wear KN95 or N95 masks to ensure they do not spread if they are symptomatic?
Students can wear a medical mask, KN95 or N95. Schools will have child size medical (blue) masks at schools. Please note N95 masks must be fit tested.
What is the plan for testing?
All staff and students will be provided one at-home rapid test kit containing two tests every two weeks, for weekly testing. Students and staff are strongly encouraged to test on Sunday night or Monday morning before coming to school.
In-school testing for students showing symptoms will be available through your school nurse for consented students and staff. Consent forms will be sent via Permission Click during the week before school starts.
Can symptomatic testing be mandatory or at least Opt-Out?
Testing is considered a medical procedure/event so we must receive consent, it cannot be opt out.
How will we receive the at-home test kits?
Test kits will be distributed at student's schools. Your student will receive one test kit every two weeks and each kit has two rapid antigen tests. We strongly encourage families to use the at-home test kits provided and to test their child weekly, on Sunday night or Monday morning before coming to school.
What kind of support will be put in place for children with physical and/or neurological issues caused by long covid?
We would work with the family and the child's doctor to develop an accommodation plan based on the issues the child is experiencing.
What are the safety measures in place for students with disabilities?
Schools will ensure that students with disabilities have the materials and the skills to ensure that they are safe. This includes masks and any specialized PPE as needed, and skill-building lessons so that students understand the importance of mask-wearing and working towards tolerating mask-wearing. Families of students with disabilities can communicate directly with their school to ensure the specific needs of students are met and that all directions provided in the student’s Individualized Education Plan are followed.
What do I do if my child tests positive outside of school?
Parents and guardians are required to report a positive test result by calling their child’s school. Students and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 should isolate at home for at least 5 days. After 5 or more days of isolation, if symptoms have resolved and the student/staff member has tested negative, they may return to school and must wear a mask until day 11 after their first positive test.
What happens if my child tests positive for COVID-19 while in school?
If your child tests positive while in school through symptomatic testing, they will put on a mask and a parent/guardian/caregiver will be called to pick them up. Students and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 should isolate at home for at least 5 days. After 5 or more days of isolation, if symptoms have resolved and the student/staff member has tested negative, they may return to school and must wear a mask until day 11 after their first positive test.
How will I know if someone in my child’s school has COVID-19?
BPHC, and BPS Health Services monitor positive COVID-19 cases multiple times a day and meet every afternoon to discuss positive case trends. Below are the notifications families can expect.
Positive In-School Symptomatic Communication: If a positive case is identified from in-school symptomatic testing, notification will be sent to the classroom or cohort impacted.
Cluster Communication: Schools will send notifications to classrooms or cohorts when clusters of 3 or more cases are reported. Students may continue to attend school as long as they remain asymptomatic and are required to mask in school for 10 days.
It’s important to note, the only positive cases BPS can verify are the positive cases reported from in school symptomatic testing therefore, BPS will only communicate positive case notifications on these individual results from in school symptomatic testing however, BPS is reporting all positive cases, in total and by school or building, on a public dashboard at www.bostonpublicschools.org/coviddashboard
Will there be after school and sports programs?
Yes. BPS-approved partners who work full-time in schools, including before- and after-school providers.
Where can I find more information about Covid-19 measures and protocols?
Check out our full FAQ on Covid, here.
How do I access Boston Public Schools’ Parent University New Student and Family Welcome Orientation presentation?
Families who missed one of these sessions can check out the recording of the Parent University Zoom Session here.
Will my child receive breakfast every day?
All BPS students receive free breakfast and lunch in BPS. If they participate in a BPS afterschool program, they also receive a free meal during program hours.
Is there a menu for families to look at?
Yes, menus are posted at least one month in advance and can be viewed here, on our website.
May my child bring their own lunch?
Yes, children are always welcome to bring their own lunch. Please observe any rules your school or classroom may have about allergies.
Whom should we call if we will not be using the bus?
Please call our Transportation Hotline at 617-635-9520
What if my child is late for school as a result of the orange line shutdown?
Students will not be penalized for being late, given the orange line closure. In addition, breakfast will be served after the bell to ensure a healthy start, and educators will work with students to consider any lost learning time.
How does my family get a 7 day t-pass?
7 day MBTA LINK passes have been distributed to all of our schools. Please contact the school directly or contact the Transportation Hotline at 617.635.9520.
How do I know if my child will get transportation to and from school?
Elementary grade students who live over a mile from school, middle school students who live more than 1.5 miles, and high school students who live more than two miles from their school are entitled to transportation, as are students whose IEPs require this service. Everyone who is eligible who registered before August 12 (or already enrolled) should have received their route information. Families who register after this date receive the information as soon as it is available.
What if my child's bus is late?
BPS parents can use the Where's My Bus app to track where their child's school bus is and plan accordingly. BPS does track on-time performance and will work to address chronic late buses.
Is there a special process to make sure our student gets his M7 card?
If you have received notification that your student is receiving a pass, then you are all set. These are distributed on Day 1 at school.
Please clarify if M7 passes are given to 6th grade students?
Students in the 6th grade are assigned to buses if they meet the mileage requirement of residing 1.5 miles away from school. Families can instead opt to get an M7 pass through our Student support portal which can be found on our website bostonpublicschools.org/transportation.
Are uniforms mandatory?
Every school community votes on their own uniform policy. The School Site Council, which includes parents and educators, vote on this each year. Please reach out to the school to inquire. Phone numbers can be found here.
Will waitlists continue after school starts?
Waitlists remain active through the end of November and then they expire. Families seeking a new school for their child for the following school year are encouraged to request a "next school year" transfer during the first registration period for the next grade (Round 1 for K0, K1, 6 and 9, and Round 2 for all other grades). To check on a waitlist, please call a Welcome Center at 617-635-9010.