Due to the fact that COVID-19 positive test results among Boston residents are still over 4 percent, Mayor Martin Walsh and Boston Public Schools (BPS) have been forced to once again push back the move from ‘remote’ learning to a ‘hybrid’ learning model.
While students in certain grades were expected to begin ‘hybrid’ learning this week the new timeline will start Thursday Oct. 29 and Monday, Nov. 2 for Grades K0-3; grades 4-8 will begin hybrid learning on Thursday, Nov. 5, and Monday, Nov 9; and Grades 9-12 will begin hybrid learning on Monday, Nov. 16, and Thursday, Nov. 19.
Hybrid learning was to officially begin for K0-3 on Oct. 15; however, Boston is now designated as a ‘red’ zone by the state as the positive test rates have been consistently above 4 percent for several weeks now.
“We pushed Phase 3 back a week, which means half of the students in kindergarten through third grade whose families opted in are due to begin hybrid learning Oct. 29,” said Mayor Walsh. “We will be monitoring the data closely over the coming days to determine if it is safe for Phase 3 to move forward.”
The Mayor reminded everyone that the City paused its phased-in reopening plan for BPS due to the recent uptick of COVID-19 activity.
“We continue to ensure that all of our schools are safe environments,” said Walsh. “We continue to serve our highest-needs students, who depend for their health and safety on in-person services. And we will not increase the number of students in schools unless public health authorities approve.”
However, with 1,300 ‘high-needs’ students attending schools each day since the Boston Teachers Union (BTU) recently sought an injunction in Suffolk Superior Court so teachers won’t be forced to teach in-person until the positive test rate in Boston goes below 4 percent.
However, the courts rejected the emergency injunction last week.
“While we view the language in the safety agreement differently, what is most important is that we figure out a collaborative plan as soon as possible that includes safe staffing ratios, that reduces the viral footprint in our school buildings, and that ensures high-quality in-person instruction for our highest-needs students,” said the BTU in a statement after the ruling. “Since the start of the pandemic, we have affirmed the value and importance of in-person instruction for high needs students, and hopefully, this ruling will accelerate our ongoing conversations with the district so that students and staff are learning and working in the safest environment possible when in-person. That means having no more adults in the building than are necessary to ensure high-quality instruction for high-needs students and reducing the viral footprint through more collaborative and intentional scheduling. Safe staffing ratios and reducing the viral footprint are still possible with or without an injunction if the district works with us to formulate the safest possible plan. We will continue to advocate for the health, safety and equity of learning experiences for all of our students, and respect for our educators.”