November 6, 2020
Dear Boston Public Schools Families,
As we close out the second week of full remote learning, I hope that your experience with remote learning is improved from last year, thanks to the time the BPS team and our educators dedicated over the summer to plan and prepare for a more engaging and consistent experience.
I am writing with an update on our plan to return to in-person learning. As early as next week, BPS expects to see students return to in-person learning and services in our special education day schools, including the Carter, McKinley, Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and the Henderson – schools that educate students with complex needs that cannot be fully addressed through remote learning.
We continue to discuss the opportunity to welcome additional students back into our school buildings with our teachers and partners, starting with our highest need students. We will welcome back additional students to school buildings as soon as we can, once school plans are approved and reviewed by the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), and following ongoing conversations with our teachers and staff.
While we prepare to welcome students back, I want to make a few points clear. Our buildings are ready and exceed DESE guidelines. BPS staff and the City of Boston did the work over the summer to ensure we followed all guidance from public health officials. Every building was cleared by the BPHC. We shifted to remote learning as part of the City’s strategy to contain the spread of the coronavirus after seeing an increase in the positive test rate, not because of challenges with our school buildings.
In order to address those higher COVID-19 positivity rates, we are taking extra steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in our schools as we prepare to welcome back students and staff. That includes upgrading filters in our buildings with HVAC systems, making repairs to thousands of windows and adding portable air filtration units to our student-occupied buildings without HVAC; starting new, additional air quality testing; and adding access to free COVID-19 testing at or near the school buildings for staff reporting in-person.
We also continue conversations with our teachers and educators on our return to in-person learning for additional students, recognizing that hybrid learning was the preferred model for half of our families. I will continue to provide updates on our progress toward welcoming additional students back into our school buildings. For more information about reopening and remote learning, please visit bostonpublicschools.org/reopening.
I know the interruption to in-person learning is incredibly disappointing for many of you, as it is for me. I want our students back in schools with their classmates and their teachers. In the meantime, we will continue our focus on consistent delivery of high quality remote learning and do our part to slow the spread of the coronavirus so we can welcome students and staff back into school buildings. Please continue to wear a face covering when you leave your home, practice safe physical distancing, avoid large groups, and wash your hands frequently. If we all do our part, we will all be back together as soon as possible.
Dr. Brenda Cassellius