Boston Public Schools introduces 3rd option of learning

Boston city councilor says BPS students should start fall semester fully remotely

BOSTON — Boston Public Schools released more details of its reopening plan on Saturday. But the district still did not specify how students will return to school in just over a month.

BPS now has three learning model options: fully remote, a hybrid model of on-campus and remote learning, and a second hybrid option.

In the third option, students who receive special services, either English Learners or special education, or who are identified by Student Support Teams as needing additional in-person learning, can return to class three or four days a week, according to the Boston Public School’s most recent draft of its reopening plan.

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This third option is only available if in-person learning slots are open in the student’s school given the number of other students who have opted into hybrid learning models.

The district says if they choose to go with hybrid learning, parents will have the choice to send their kids to school or keep them home to learn remotely.

Massachusetts has encouraged districts to decide whether they will return to the classroom, but has not made it a requirement.

BPS’ indecision has frustrated many people, especially parents who want to be able to plan.

In a statement to The Boston Globe, BPS superintendent Brenda Casselius said, “I understand the urgency and appreciate the patience of our families and educators as we work to finalize our reopening plan to ensure it is thorough, thoughtful, and responsive to our community, and allows time for our families and staff to adequately prepare for a safe and successful school year.”

Boston falls in a yellow infection rate zone, where Massachusetts encourages districts to return to school on some type of hybrid plan.

A source told Boston 25 on Monday that a couple of school districts did receive an extension from the state to submit their proposals beyond the Friday deadline.

According to the source, the districts cited committee meetings that were already scheduled for Monday night, and were asked to submit the information by a new Tuesday morning deadline.

Boston Public Schools announced Monday that they postponed the opening of their Welcome Centers, which offers in-person services to parents who have questions about the school year, and registration.

Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu told Boston 25 on Monday that she believes students in BPS should begin the year with a fully remote model, instead of allowing students to enter the classrooms through a hybrid learning schedule.

“We’re already about a month out from school and as a parent, it still feels quite stressful to think through what will happen in just a few weeks, and what choices there are for my son and all of our students at BPS,” said Wu. “The district should commit to an all-remote start through the end of the month, just through the end of the first month, just to make sure we are really giving educators the time to settle in, giving families the time to get used to online learning, figure out what arrangements need to be made, help students adjust, and then start to work quickly so people who need in-person services at school can get those services as fast as possible.”

“The Boston Public Schools (BPS) continues to prioritize the health and well-being of our students, staff, and families. BPS is respecting family choice to the greatest extent possible by providing the option for all remote learning, while continuing our planning for a hybrid model of instruction. BPS believes it is critical that our students have the option to return to in-person learning as soon as it is safe to do so, though we also understand some families’ concerns and desire to choose remote learning. This plan also permits BPS some flexibility, following state guidelines by allowing our plans to adjust according to evolving science, public health metrics and trends. BPS and the City of Boston continue to monitor public health guidance as we enter the final phase of our planning. I understand the urgency and appreciate the patience of our families and educators as we work to finalize our reopening plan to ensure it is thorough, thoughtful, responsive to our community, and allows time for our families and staff to adequately prepare for a safe and successful school year.”
Boston Public School District Superintendent Brenda Cassellius