Boston Scraps Plan for Gradual Physical Reopening as COVID-19 Positivity...


Boston Scraps Plan for Gradual Physical Reopening as COVID-19 Positivity Rates Tick Up

Oct 8, 2020

On Wednesday, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced that the city wouldn’t begin its phased rollout of hybrid learning next week, as previously planned. Instead, the vast majority of the district’s 54,000 students will continue to attend school remotely, until at least October 22. (Students designated as having the “highest needs” will be allowed to continue to attend school in-person two days a week, as they have since October 1. This group includes English language learners, certain types of special education students, and students experiencing homelessness.)

What spurred Walsh’s announcement? The city’s seven-day average COVID-19 positivity rate ticked to 4.1 percent, just above the 4 percent threshold that officials from Boston Public Schools, public health agencies, and teachers’ unions previously agreed would make in-person learning unsafe. This comes on the heels of last week’s announcement that Boston had moved into the “red zone,” the Massachusetts’ Department of Public Health’s designation for municipalities with the highest levels of COVID-19 transmission.

Like Boston, many school district plans have changed as conditions on the ground evolve. According to an EdSurge/Social Context Labs database of 375 districts, 33 districts—or 9% of districts in the sample—have already implemented a change from remote-only to in-person or hybrid attendance structures. Three districts have implemented a plan to move from in-person or hybrid learning to remote-only instruction. There are doubtless many more districts like Boston that are remaining in a remote attendance structure despite previously having announced plans to change.

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