Guest Op-Ed: We Need to Thrive, Not Just Survive, This Moment

By Councilor Lydia Edwards

Boston Public School families and guardians have endured unimaginable hardship since the onset of the COVID pandemic and face uncertainty for the upcoming academic year. Once surrounded by vital classroom interactions, our kids are now relegated inside for at-home learning over tiny computer or tablet screens. Working parents are left struggling to figure out

how to balance their own agenda in addition to their kids rigorous class schedules.

Last Friday, Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Superintendent Brenda Cassellius announced students will begin the delayed start date of September 21st fully remote with a phased hybrid model to follow. This is a step in the right direction. I applaud BPS officials and the administration for listening to widespread concerns about the safety and well-being of all participants.

The proposed phased hybrid approach is the best decision to maintain the health of our children, teachers, and families. I support prioritizing students with individualized education plans and English language learners tentatively starting on October 1st as they require unique support to ensure progress with their specialized instruction. Families of toddlers and small children from K0 to K3 will tentatively start October 15th and 19th, grades 1-3 will tentatively start October 22nd and 26th, and grades 4-8 will start in phase four on November 5th and 9th.

For high school parents, especially those of seniors, we recognize and understand your pain. Your child will tentatively begin in-person, hybrid learning around Thanksgiving on November 16th or 19th. This should be a joyous time of year typically reserved for finalizing personal essays and applications or visiting colleges for in-person tours. We should start talking now about creating new traditions and celebrations that recognize this special time for our graduating seniors. We owe it to them to recognize their achievements as well as their families.

The first day of school will be extremely different this year but I truly believe our City, especially our kids and young adults, are formidable enough to adapt to this new reality. The best thing we can focus our energy on now for students is how best to academically prepare them for a new world outside of the classroom at college and beyond.

It’s our obligation to produce a generation of students that are civically engaged, globally-minded, and ready to tackle society’s greatest challenges. They will inherit a City thrown into chaos due to an unseen virus and it’s on us to provide them with the necessary tools to reimagine what is possible. We need to do more than survive this moment. We need to figure out how to thrive.

Lydia Edwards is the City Councilor of District 1.

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