Boston Public Schools will close starting Tuesday, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said Friday night, the latest measure the city's taken to limit the spread and impact of the new coronavirus.
Schools will remain open Monday. And while the district intends to reopen the week of April 27, after vacation week, Walsh said that could change depending on the course of the coronavirus outbreak.
There is no evidence of a positive coronavirus test among anyone who attends or works at Boston Public Schools community, Walsh said, adding, "We are not going to wait for more cases to be confirmed. We have determined that now is the time to take bold action."
Three campuses at Boston's Eliot School had already been closed after someone who had entered one of the buildings tested positive for the coronavirus.
Teachers at Boston Public Schools will work through the week to collect learning packets and computer work for students, but more guidance on that will come in the coming days, Walsh said.
Boston Public Schools is Massachusetts' largest school district, with more than 50,000 students across 125 schools. Conversations about whether to close it have been going on for days, Walsh said.
"We understand the fear the concern, and the anxiety that families are facing," he said.
The announcement came shortly after the Massachusetts Teachers Association called for the immediate closure of every public school in the commonwealth.
Gov. Charlie Baker downplayed that move Friday afternoon while announcing that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has established guidelines about when and for how long to close individual schools, which prompted some districts to announce two-week closures Friday.
"Just shutting schools down completely does not appear to be the appropriate thing to do at this time," he said.
Twenty-five Bostonians have tested positive for the new coronavirus disease, COVID-19, so far, according to Walsh. That's about 1 in 5 of the 123 cases detected around Massachusetts as of Friday.
If the outbreak eases, Walsh said, schools could reopen earlier.
Walsh had already announced earlier Friday that the Boston Marathon was being pushed back from Patriots' Day to September. In that announcement, he'd said that Boston Public Schools were still intending to stay open, but City Councilor Michelle Wu tweeted Friday night that the mayor had confirmed to her that he was working on a plan to keep the schools safe.
News about the new coronavirus, which has infected nearly 125 people in Massachusetts and killed more than 40 Americans in other states, has been arriving at a blistering pace.
In the hour before Walsh's news conference, Harvard University announced that a member of the community tested positive for the coronavirus disease, COVID-19, and Worcester Public Schools announced they were closing through the beginning of April.
“It’s tough on the families that are – they live paycheck to paycheck, it’s very tough because we can’t just leave them alone,” Worcester parent Ariana Rodriguez said Friday.
But another parent in the city, William Rawlston, said that it made sense to keep students at home "if there’s a risk that they could get it or any type of risk at all."