Boston Superintendent Seeks to Bring Students Back to School

A discussion to bring back students with the highest needs drew swift concern from the teachers union

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The superintendent of Boston Public Schools is working to get students with the highest needs back in the classroom, a move that would come after the district went fully remote last week due to coronavirus safety concerns.

Superintendent Brenda Cassellius said during a city council hearing Wednesday the district is implementing additional safety measures -- including large capacity rooms and additional staff testing -- in the hopes of bringing students back as early as this week.

"It's extremely heartbreaking for us not to provide these to our students and it’s been very challenging and difficult to speak with the parents who are just really desperate for this care for their children,” Cassellius said.

BPS spokesperson Xavier Andrews said Wednesday that the schools are not reopening Thursday.

"We are working with our teachers and educators to construct an approach to provide in-person services to our students with the highest needs," Andrews said. "We will provide families with an update as soon as the plan is fully developed."

Beginning Thursday, all Boston Public Schools students will be learning remotely.

Jessica Tang, president of the Boston Teachers Union, said she was shocked by the suggestion. The teacher's union is urging the district to continue the conversation before making any moves.

“As much as I do think everyone is well intended… We must do better," Tang said.

The district pivoted to full remote learning on Oct. 22 as part of an effort to curb the growing number of COVID-19 cases across the city. The decision came amid an alarming rise in positive cases in Boston.

Once the citywide seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate is below 5% for two consecutive weeks, students with the highest needs will have the option to return to in-person learning, officials have said.

When the citywide seven-day positivity rate is below 4% for two consecutive weeks, Boston Public Schools will restart the phased return of students for in-person learning, beginning with its youngest students. The district will also provide fully remote learning for all who choose it.

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