BPS Closes Schools Amid COVID-19 Outbreak, Food Distribution Sites Established

As the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) grips Boston, the nation and the world, Mayor Martin Walsh and Superintendent Brenda Cassellius made the tough decision to close Boston Public Schools (BPS) until April 27.

BPS has established several food distribution sites across East Boston for school-age children and their families to ensure stu­dents that rely on free meals can still get daily nutrition during the closure.

On Monday, BPS stu­dents in Eastie went to school to gather belongings as school staff distribut­ed learning materials that are ready for use at home. Schools officially closed on Tuesday, March 17.

The decision to close schools is being made proactively to mitigate and contain the spread of COVID-19, and follows the declaration of a nation­al emergency that was an­nounced by President Don­ald Trump last week.

“My priority will always be to protect the health and safety of the residents of Boston,” said Mayor Walsh. “The decision to close schools was extremely difficult to make and follows several days of robust planning to ensure that we are still able to provide our students with the services they need even with schools being closed. I want to thank Boston’s principals, teachers, and school leadership for their collaboration and input during a very serious and quickly evolving situation to ensure that we are living up to our commitment of putting the well-being of our school communities at the forefront of everything that we do.”

BPS will also be providing Chromebooks to every student who needs one, which comes with learning resources and technical support.

“I will always measure every decision in child benefit. Today and always, their health and safety, as well as that of our staff, and families, is our top priority,” said Superintendent Cassellius. “In collaboration with Mayor Walsh and Health and Human Services Chief Martinez, BPS has been actively developing a plan to support our community during this rapidly changing situation. I am incredibly grateful to our teachers, school leaders, custodians, food service workers, bus drivers, and all the staff at BPS for their commitment to our children.”

In Eastie, BPS has teamed up with local non-profits like the Salesian Boys & Girls Club and the city’s BCYF Community Centers, including the Paris Street Community Center, to begin distributing meals to students.

Meal Distribution sites serving BPS families in Eastie include the following:

* YMCA at 54 Ashley St.  8 a.m. – noon

* YMCA at 215 Bremen St.  8 a.m. – noon

* Salesians Boys/Girls Club at 150 Byron St. –  8 a.m. – noon

* Orient Heights Community Community Center  – 8 a.m. – noon

* East Boston High School –  8:30 – 11:30 a.m.

* Martin Pino BCYF at 86 Boardman St. – 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

* Paris Street BCYF at 112 Paris St. –  9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

“The Boston School Committee thanks our 10,000 teachers, school leaders, and staff, who will rise to the occasion to support our community in these times,” said Michael Loconto, Boston School Committee Chairperson. “Working with Mayor Walsh and our City’s public services, our Boston Public Schools will provide students with tools to maintain their education and return to school ready to learn and achieve.”

On Wednesday, March 11, the Boston Public Health Commission and BPS announced the closure of the three campuses of the Eliot K-8 School after a non-student member of the school’s community tested positive for COVID-19. The Eliot serves students from Eastie, the North End, Charlestown and downtown Boston. Visit boston.gov/coronavirus for up-to-date information and answers to commonly asked questions.

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