Boston Public Schools announced that due to a rising COVID-19 infection rate in the city, and in support of efforts to contain the spread, all students will shift to remote learning effective tomorrow, Thursday, October 22. The city’s seven-day average COVID-19 positive test rate was reported at 5.7%, an increase from last week’s rate of 4.5%. Students will remain in remote learning until there are two full weeks of falling infection rates.
“We have said all along that we will only provide in-person learning for students if the data and public health guidance supports it, and this new data shows that we are trending in the wrong direction,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “We will continue to monitor the metrics and work towards our goal of welcoming students back into our classrooms, learning among their peers, supported and educated by our dedicated staff.”
The announcement was made in consultation with public health officials and in reviewing data that shows two weeks of increased confirmed positive cases across the entire City of Boston.
“I am heartbroken that today we have to close our doors to our highest need students. Our families are desperate for these services for their children, many of whom are non-verbal and unable to use technology in the home. We will work with the Boston Teachers Union and remain committed to providing in-person learning opportunities to our students as we are able, as we continue to prioritize our students with the highest needs for in-person learning,” said BPS Superintendent Dr. Brenda Cassellius. "I look forward to the broader Boston community doing its part in complying with the public health guidance and helping us bring this infection rate down so we can open our doors. We need your help. Our children are depending on all of us."
Once the citywide seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate is at 5% or below for two consecutive weeks, students with the highest needs will have the option to return to in-person learning. When the citywide seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate is at 4% or below for two consecutive weeks, BPS will restart the phased return of students for in-person learning, beginning with our youngest students. BPS will continue to respect family choice and will provide fully remote learning for all who choose it.
BPS will provide updates to 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. The district is exploring options for providing services for our students with complex disabilities and will update families with more information in the coming days.
All BPS students started the school year learning remotely on September 21. Families were able to select if they wanted to keep their students in all-remote learning or opt into a hybrid learning model. Students recognized as High In-Person Priority were able to return for in-person learning beginning October 1. Families will be notified of an updated timeline for their children to resume or begin in-person learning for the school year as soon as public health data allows.
For more information on the BPS reopening plan, work done to prepare buildings for in-person learning, and the district’s health and safety protocols visit bostonpublicschools.org/reopening.