BPS analyzing new state metrics to safely move to in-person learning

As some special education students returned to schools in-person this week, Supt. Brenda Cassellius said they are taking a hard look at Gov. Charlie Baker’s call to return students to school, and just how new metrics might work in helping that happen.

     Across the district, parents have grown weary of remote learning. The most vulnerable special education students on Monday returned to the Carter School (South End), the McKinley School (South End) and the Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (Allston), and Cassellius said they could have an update soon on a plan to move forward with all students.

     “We continue to meet with School Leaders and district and union leadership to discuss the best way to return to in-person learning,” she wrote in a letter to parents. “We have heard from many of you that while remote learning has greatly improved, for many students in-person learning is the best approach. We are committed to reopening school buildings as soon as we can, in collaboration with the City and our partners. We have launched a Task Force—which includes School Leaders, Boston Teachers Union (BTU), parent, student, and district representatives—that is advising on plans for safely reopening schools. We remain in close contact with BPHC as we continue working to ensure our health and safety readiness matches all emerging science and updated guidance.”

     That Task Force and the district will look at new guidance from the state that was released almost two weeks ago and changed up how high-risk, or red, communities were calculated.

     “Governor Baker, Secretary Peyser, and Commissioner Riley released new guidelines on Friday afternoon that outlined the state’s new approach to calculating and reporting public health data,” she wrote. “They also challenged school districts to return as many students to in-person learning as quickly as possible.”

     She said the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) is closely reviewing the state’s new approach to measuring infection rates and their impact on a school’s ability to welcome students and staff into the building.

     “We still have work to do to fully understand their new calculation,” she wrote.

            An update is expected sometime this week, or early next week.

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