Coronavirus

‘COVID is Spreading': BPS Parents Call for Safety Changes

Parents claim the state's recent decision to allow districts to shift from the so-called "Test and Stay" program to using at-home rapid test puts all the responsibility on families

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Parents called on state leaders to increase pool testing frequency and to allow for remote learning to prevent COVID-19 infections in Boston Public Schools Tuesday.

The group protested during the monthly board meeting of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in Malden Tuesday morning.

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“Governor Baker and his administration are not doing enough to address COVID in schools," Boston parent Sarah Horsley said.

“We believe and we know that COVID is spreading in schools, despite what other folks say," Boston parent Suleika Soto said.

Parents plan to call on state leaders to increase pool testing frequency and to allow for remote learning to prevent COVID-19 infections in Boston Public Schools.

Parents want the state to offer pool testing twice a week in every school with results in 24 hours, provide at least two rapid tests per week to families, N95 or KF94 masks for staff and KF94 for students and allow remote learning days to count toward the 180 days of required instruction.

"We’re calling for flexibility to be able to implement remote learning when necessary to either mitigate a surge or if parents or students don’t feel like they’re safe," Soto said.

The group said the state's recent decision to allow districts to shift from the so-called "Test and Stay" program to using at-home rapid test puts all the responsibility on families, which they called a "recipe for inequity."

Gov. Charlie Baker and Massachusetts education officials announced updated school COVID-19 testing options last week, including providing participating students and staff with at-home rapid tests weekly to help keep in-person learning going.

Under the new program, schools were able to sign up to receive at-home rapid antigen tests for weekly use by participating students and staff. These schools discontinue contact tracing and the "Test and Stay" program to allow school health staff to spend more time identifying symptomatic individuals and focusing on other aspects of COVID management.

Gov. Charlie Baker has announced a new program to provide at-home COVID-19 tests for students and staff at schools.

In order to take part, the state said schools must continue to participate in symptomatic and/or pooled testing.

The at-home tests are shipped directly to school districts for distribution and are packaged in kits containing two tests apiece. Students and staff who participate receive one kit every two weeks to test themselves. Families need to inform their school if they want at-home rapid antigen tests sent home with students.

The rally comes a week after more than 1,000 students and 300 staff members tested positive for COVID-19 in Boston Public Schools.

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