BOSTON (WHDH) - Boston Public Schools students can expect a safe, clean, and spaced-out learning environment when they ultimately return to class this fall amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Superintendent Brenda Cassellius announced last month that the city would begin the new school year with a “phased-in hybrid model” of learning.
On Sept. 21, all students will start the school year with fully-remote learning and no sooner than Oct. 1, the option of hybrid learning will begin for students with the highest needs, according to city officials. Students in all three grades of kindergarten will have the option to begin hybrid learning on Oct. 15, while grades 1-3 can begin hybrid learning on Oct. 22. Grades 4-8 can begin hybrid learning on Nov. 5 and grades 9-12 will have to wait until Nov. 16.
Families will have the choice of whether to opt-in to hybrid learning or stay fully remote.
“The phased-in hybrid plan is a cautious, responsible, equitable approach that balances the needs of our diverse student body,” a post on Walsh’s website stated.
The hybrid learning model will include remote learning three days a week and in-person learning for the other two days, according to Cassellius. When students are in class, desks will be spaced at least six feet apart and masks must be worn.
“We are working with school leaders and facilities professionals to make sure every school is safe,” Walsh said. “We have spent months preparing our school buildings and training staff to protect students’ and teachers’ health.”
On Wednesday, news crews were allowed to tour some schools as city officials showcased an array of significant safety upgrades.
The school district has provided teachers with plexiglass and vinyl separators, equipped nurses’ rooms with properly ventilated isolation spaces, ensured all HVAC systems are in working order and have appropriate filters, bought electro-static sprayers to disinfect surfaces, installed sanitizing stations at entrances and exits, made sure foot traffic is properly marked for spacing and safety signage is everywhere, and repaired or replaced 7,000 windows so all learning spaces have fresh air.
We're welcoming back @BostonSchools educators for remote professional development this week, and we're still hard at work preparing our buildings for in-person learning.
— BostonPublicSchools (@BostonSchools) September 8, 2020
“Kids need to get back to school, in many cases for reasons of equity and safety. And we need to provide quality education in whatever format is required. That’s what this plan makes possible,” Walsh said.
Since schools closed in March, Boston has distributed more than 32,500 Chromebooks and provided more than 2,600 free wifi hotspots to families who need them.
The decision to push back the start of the new year was made to give schools and teachers extra time to prepare.
The beginning of each phase in the plan is subject to change depending upon public health data.
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