Supt. Brenda Cassellius announced suddenly on Wednesday morning that Boston Public Schools (BPS) will go all-remote for the time being, including for vulnerable special needs students who have been attending school in-person since Oct. 1.
The announcement came upon the release of new data metrics from the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) that showed Boston citywide positivity rates had climbed above 5 percent.
“Current data are showing a concerning upward trend of COVID-19 activity in the City of Boston and, out of an abundance of caution, Mayor Walsh and I have decided to suspend in-person learning for all students,” wrote Cassellius. “Effective tomorrow, Thursday, October 22, all BPS students will learn remotely until public health data shows a downward trend in positive COVID-19 cases.
“We remain committed to providing in-person learning opportunities to our students as soon as it is safe to do so, and will continue to prioritize our students with the highest needs for in-person learning,” she continued. “Once the citywide seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate is below 5 percent for two consecutive weeks, we will begin to welcome our students with the highest needs back for in-person learning. When the citywide seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate is below 4 percent for two consecutive weeks, we will restart the phase-in of in-person learning beginning with our youngest students.”
On Wednesday morning, the BPHC reported 5.7 percent positivity rate, which was an increase from last week’s 4.5 percent and 4.1 percent two weeks ago.
Cassellius said some parents with younger children had received letters informing them of a start date on Oct. 22 or later, but that has changed completely with the new metrics released Wednesday.
“In addition, schools will work with families who may need to pick up technology or other personal items students may have left at school,” she wrote. “We are also exploring options for providing services for our students with complex disabilities and will update families with more information in the coming days.”
She said it is unfortunate, but a situation that is uncertain and she thanked parents and educators for being flexible and collaborating.