Boston Public Schools last week filed its reopening plan with the state, laying out its vision for educating over 50,000 students across the city amid the coronavirus pandemic when school resumes in the fall.
The plan rules out a full return to classes in the fall, but falls short of a definitive decision about whether to start school with students learning exclusively from home or in a hybrid model combining remote learning with in-person classes.
The open-ended approach -- which has drawn swift criticism -- instead seeks to emphasize guidance from health officials as well as parental choice.
Here's what we know about the plan.
What's in the plan?
Districts were required by Friday to prepare plans for three different scenarios: In-person classes, remote learning, or a hybrid of the two options.
The first thing to know about the plan is that it removes the possibility of a full in-person return in the fall.
However, it does not indicate whether the district plans to use a fully remote approach or a hybrid approach. Instead, it stresses that science will “drive the decision" over whether to bring students back to the classroom this year.
Parents will be given learning options to choose from -- in the case that COVID-19 cases remain low enough for hybrid learning to be an option.
“There is no one solution that will work best for every student, every family, or every person who works with Boston Public Schools,” the plan states. “Recognizing and respecting that fact, the BPS Reopening Plan provides several learning model options for families to choose from in order to best meet the educational needs of their children.”
What would each option look like?
The district said it would ask parents this week which learning plan they prefer for the fall. Families who opt for a hybrid model for their children and who are eligible for school bus service will be asked whether they plan to use the service.
According to the district, any parent who wishes to keep their child home, even in a hybrid-learning scenario, will be able to do so.
There are two options in the plan for hybrid learning.
In one model, students are split into two groups. Students in the first group would go to school on Mondays and Tuesdays, and learn remotely on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
The other group goes to school on Thursdays and Fridays, and learns remotely on the other three weekdays.
The second model is designed for students with special needs. In this model, students would have the option of coming to school on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, contingent on whether their school has enough space and staff to work with the students.
Some Boston city councilors on Saturday expressed frustration with the lack of a specific decision on how schools should reopen, according to The Boston Globe.
“I remain shocked and disappointed that we still do not have a decision on reopening, but instead have an 80-page document with no decisive plan,” said Councilor Andrea Campbell. “Every day the district delays this decision, we lose an opportunity to prepare our students for success and our community loses confidence that this school year will be safe and successful. Students and parents need a decision to plan their schedules [and] teachers to plan their classes.”
Getting students to school also remains a concern. Bus routes in the city, which are already elaborate in a more normal year, will be further complicated by new state rules that limit only one student to a seat, calling into question whether Boston will have enough buses to handle the capacity.
These questions come as students in Grades 1-12 are due to resume school on September 21, a date already pushed back by city school officials.
“I understand the urgency and appreciate the patience of our families and educators as we work to finalize our reopening plan to ensure it is thorough, thoughtful, and responsive to our community, and allows time for our families and staff to adequately prepare for a safe and successful school year,” Boston Superintendent Brenda Cassellius said in a statement Saturday.