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Walsh: Still no decision on how school will start this year

BPS Fall Reopening Virtual Community Meeting - August 8, 2020

Mayor Walsh said today that BPS is planning on making its school buildings as safe as possible - but also beefing up remote-learning abilities - as officials continue to try to figure out whether school will start this fall entirely remotely or with a "hopscotch" model in which students would spend part of their time in school and part at home.

"One way or another there's going to be remote learning going on," Walsh said at a City Hall press conference today. But at the same time, officials are rushing to get schools ready for students: The city has purchased 5,000 sheets of plexiglass with which to separate students, all nurse's offices are getting special isolation spaces for students who fall ill, HVAC systems are being upgraded and even long stuck windows are being unstuck to provide adequate and safe ventilation.

And before any schools are open, they will be inspected by ISD to ensure they are safe, he said.

"We will not send students or teachers or staff into a building that is not safe," he said, adding that the final answer might also include some schools opening, at least partially, with others remaining physically closed. It's a complicated decision because BPS is a complicated system, with 50,000 or so students, some 120 schools and transportation that relies on both BPS buses and the MBTA to get students around.

At the same time, BPS is looking at ways to improve remote learning, in part because this past spring's experience showed the model in use then was only exacerbating the achievement gap for minority students. He noted that schools today provide more than just learning - they also offer kids meals and after-school programs. And he acknowledged that not all parents can continue to stay at home with their kids.

"We have to get this right; our kids are depending on us doing this," he said.

Walsh said the final decision will depend in part on Covid-19 trends in Boston. He said the positivity rate among Boston tests have grown from about 2.1% a few weeks ago to as high as 2.9%, although it has since gone down over recent days to about 2.5%.

The numbers show, if nothing else, that Covid-19 is still here and that people have to keep following safety guidelines and rules - wear masks, keep your distance, avoid crowds and wash hands.

Walsh said he's particularly concerned about the imminent arrival of college students from high-rate Covid states. Although several local colleges have submitted plans that include initial quarantining and frequent testing, he said he worries whether all those students will, in fact, comply with those plans.

Walsh also said he's concerned about parents attending Little League games without masks. If they're not wearing masks, they should at least have them at the ready should somebody approach them, he said.

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Comments

"Hopscotch"... what year is it 1960? Everyone else calls it "hybrid".

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Voting closed 10

"It all depends" is not a great look on the mayor, but that's what he's saying, right?

My Twitter feed seems to imply that a majority of parents are okay with reopening while a majority of teachers and school personnel are against it, at least on Day 1.

Is that about right?

This is a decision that would affect any politician, both personally and professionally, so I don't admire the mayor.

Worse, he has at least city councilors clawing their way up ready to pounce on any missteps.

Fortunately for the mayor, he'll be picking out new drapes for his DC office within 6 months.

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Voting closed 17

As a BPS parent, I'd say most parents are either concerned about or against sending kids back to start. I think there is a large minority of parents who do want to go back to school. An interesting dynamic is that from surveys I've read, white parents are more in favor of returning kids and minority parents are less in favor, even though white parents have fewer challenges in terms of working from home (this is speaking generally, not saying all white parents, black parents, etc... As with most racist/class issues, it's complicated.)

From the teachers' perspective - in normal times, they are often forced to ask for donations of items like disinfecting wipes, pens, paper towels, etc... Have we read about specific budget increases for schools to cover the greatly increased costs of adding air filters, cleaning more often, etc...? I haven't. My friends that are teachers feel that they will be given insufficient protections and materials to keep a class safe, then asked to handle it. Seems like a bad deal!

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Voting closed 45

They now have maps that indicate which areas should do what, but this is subject to change on short notice.

School systems should not have taken Trump's bullshit threats seriously and should have made their decisions without the nonsense about "all have to be in person without masks" when there was no support for that.

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Voting closed 13

please find the login and password on page 576 of the town bylaws

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Who got the contract for the much-needed "5000 sheets of plexiglass" to protect "the children" from this abominable virus that has killed ZERO people under age 20 in MA? Thankfully, the germs aren't smart enough to go around the plexiglass. This work is a nice boost to the labor unions in case Marty has to run for a dreaded third term, especially after the collapse and fall of Boston under his leadership. God knows he'll need the trade unions because he won't have the teachers unions if he forces them to actually show up for work in September.

5,184 of Massachusetts' 7,983 fatalities (as of July) have been in facilities regulated by Mayor Walsh's friends Charlie Baker and Karyn Polito. Baker and Polito accepted obscene amounts of campaign cash from the nursing home operators they were supposed to be regulating. If the goal is saving lives, let's focus on the aged and infirm who are actually at risk of potentially dying from the the disease.

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Voting closed 39

Just because something hasn't happened in MA doesn't mean it can't happen here.

Furthermore, kids are still contagious and there are a lot of adults in school buildings. Teachers, nurses, custodians. Their lives matter. There have already been teacher deaths. There's also expected to be a shortage of substitute teachers because so many subs are older retired teachers and therefore in high risk groups.

These kids will also be potentially bringing the virus home if they catch it but are asymptomatic. Many of them live with high risk family members. This is not just about the health of the individual children entering the school buildings.

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Even people, both kids and adults alike, who are asymptomatic, can spread the Covid-19 virus.

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To0 bad Fish's grand nephews and nieces won't visit him.

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It's a good thing death is the only outcome of COVID.

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It's not a matter of death or you fully recover. There are people who get the virus and survive, yet suffer serious life-long health consequences, including myocarditis for which there is no cure. These are people who were formerly perfectly healthy, active and in their prime. My friend's nephew, a cross-country runner, 19 yrs. old, no underlying health problems, got it, had penumonia as a result, still hasn't fully recovered 3 months later. Is he dead? No, thank goodness. Will he ever regain his full health again? Doctors can't say. Maybe you're not an athletic man, maybe you're old and bitter and have given up oFishL, but this kid was busting his ass training to get his scholarship and now that's down the toilet because of what you STILL think is a hoax. You maybe you're satisfied with being a keyboard warrior comment-spewing 24/7 but this 19 yr. old was trying to make something of himself, not just be un-dead.

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Voting closed 33

Look, I can cherry pick statistics which are actually irrelevant too. Yea me.

Constantly repeating the same intentionally misleading information isn't going to make it any more relevant.

The fact that no children have died so far from COVID-19 in Massachusetts doesn't mean that children are immune or protected from serious consequences. Current studies actually show that children carry as much virus as adults, even when asymptomatic. Unless you are suggesting that we seal the children in their schools, the fact that none have died SO FAR in MA is irrelevant to the discussion of the safety concerns revolving around sending them back into an enclosed environment.

I know this doesn't fit nicely into your fevered Qanon conspiracy fantasies. How sad for you. But the rest of us have to deal with reality.

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Voting closed 37

1. you are wrong
2. centuries of public health experience and data show that respiratory epidemics spin up in schools and then kill older people precisely because they don't kill kids
3. you have absolutely ZERO credentials in public health
4. you are full of shit
5. you are wrong

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Voting closed 39

FISH's data is accurate.

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But the case rate is far from zero.

That said, the case rate is about a quarter other age groups (aside from 80+)

Also, those are only MA numbers.

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M'am, this is an Arby's.

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Voting closed 13

Then it was a topless joint for like a year, and now it's an antiques store.

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How many teachers have to die before you care?

Yes, a thirty-year-old is less likely to die of COVID than a sixty- or eighty-year-old. But "less likely to die" doesn't mean they're guaranteed not to, and not to become seriously ill for weeks or months.

And what does the governor's acceptance of campaign donations have to do with it? However corrupt he may be, Boston and every other city and town in Massachusetts has to make a decision on school reopening, and "impeach the governor" isn't an answer to that question.

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Once actually said on this blog "God bless our Oil MEN." WTF is an oil man? Rhetorical question.

Sometimes when I'm taking a dump that occurs to me and I just laugh and laugh at his perverse stupidity

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A lot of towns/cities are starting out by doing 100% remote for the first 2 weeks for precisely this reason.

It's important to remember that everyone's figuring things out on incomplete information. We've seen some countries open schools and have disastrous results. Some have been successful. The safety of opening depends on a lot of factors, some of which we can control, some of which we can, and some of which we can but at great expense (like updating hvac systems to have proper filtering and adequate air exchanges).

I know that other cities in places that haven't just pretended the pandemic doesn't exist are facing the same issues and are also having trouble deciding what to do even as Labor Day draws near - NYC, for one example.

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I’m a parent of a rising K2 student and we’re opting for the 100% remote option this fall. My spouse is working full time from home and I’m working from home 2 days per week. We’re fortunate And grateful that we can make this work, for sure.
If BPS schools open to on site learning in any capacity I really think by Thanksgiving they will be going to 100% remote again.

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As a BPS parent of a high schooler, I saw that the online instruction this spring was less than adequate and I don't think going completely remote is good academically or socially. Having said that, if the kids do go back, whether full or part time, I give it two, three weeks tops, before someone in some school tests positive and the schools will be shut down and go full remote. Knowing that this will most likely happen, I don't understand why the mayor and BPS aren't already putting everything in place for full remote learning. Teachers and schools have had all summer to prepare and should have everything in place (lesson plans, slides, etc) for online instruction. With all the intelligentsia in this city, BPS should have online instruction that rivals Kahn Academy.

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That being said, why are we all so fixated on staying on the usual school schedule? Maybe a bunch of kids are going to need to repeat grades - that would suck but better than just pushing ahead with increased health risks.

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Because the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

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Having kids graduate 6-12 months late due to a lost year of covid doesn't serve anyone's needs other than maybe the taxpayers who fund BPS.

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Because the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

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I’m sending my kid back as of now, but this is a real tough call and it is to a school with the resources that our government should be providing to all, but isn’t.

The right level of risk isn’t zero, but I don’t know where MA falls or if different parts of the state fall into different categories.

If we were Georgia lol no, if we were a first world country probably easier (although the Israel example is troubling). Here I don’t know the right answer. I don’t envy anyone involved in the decision making.

I think we should be honest about what remote learning means, at least for this year. Schools still haven’t had time or resources to fund an adequate remote learning plan. Students are going to fall behind, and in ways that exacerbate existing inequality.

What’s coming on the other side of this isn’t more funding for education. The state budget is destroyed and this pandemic isnt close to over. What’s coming on the other side is “do more with less” for an extended time at schools already stretched with funding

So we aren’t going to see kids repeating grades or getting caught up by the schools. We are going to see education as the responsibility of the individual family, catching up as the responsibility of the individual family, and public education reduced (simplifying) by ~the length of the pandemic from where it was pre pandemic or narrowed in scope from where it was pre pandemic (more focus on basics, resources and time cut from extracurriculars)

I also worry about those with resources fleeing public schools and what that means for universal public education long term

Just another reason the national response to this has been an absolute tragedy and why the rush to open for business in the late spring rather than prioritizing schools opening is going to be a disaster with generational consequences.

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Won't somebody please think of the children?!

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I had a dream, or was it a nightmare? Anyway, the kids went to school but the teachers were remote. I'm not kidding. This is stressing me out. My daughter is a teacher, her daughter is entering kindergarten. Wondering how parents who are also teachers are coping.

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