Boston granted permission to delay in-person learning

BOSTON — Students will not be returning to class full time on Monday, April 5, but three weeks later -- on April 26.

“I got an email today or maybe was yesterday from the superintendent saying that they got that approval this morning,” said BPS parent Spiro Stylianopoulos. “I’m assuming they’ll let us stay home if we want to?”

Yes, you will still have the choice. The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education originally mandated districts begin implementing five days of in-person learning for grades K -5 on April 5, and for grades 6-8 on April 27. But BPS applied to delay in-person learning for K-8 until April 26 and DESE said yes.

BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius says the later date gives them adequate time to prepare especially as more and more teachers get vaccinated. She says the later return will also lead to a smoother transition for students, families, teachers, and staff when it immediately follows their spring break, while it gives them time to prepare facilities and for any transportation changes.

“It provides the district the opportunity to communicate updates with families in a timely manner, and will also ensure most of our teachers and staff have received their vaccines,” said Cassellius. “In addition, this timeline provides our educators the time to make adjustments to their instructional approach in response to the learning model shifts of their students.”

Families now have until March 29 to reply to the district’s survey with a preference for remote or full in-person instruction and their answers so far are all over the place.

She says so far they have heard from families of more than 38,000 students, or nearly 74% of students and about 59% selected five days of in-person learning while 41% prefer fully remote.

“They give us options. Right now I’m thinking about having her go a couple of days,” said one BPS parent. “She is tired of being in the house and wants to see her friends. She feels like she learns better in school.”

“You are in-person with the teacher and that makes it better,” said her daughter Abigail. “You can ask a lot of questions and they can actually help you instead of over the computer.”

“They miss seeing friends for sure but we have also been we have been able to spend time that we were not able to spend that time as a family before so it’s been OK,” said Stylianopoulos. “Obviously not forever, but for now it’s good.”

DESE received 74 requests for waivers to delay the April 5 deadline and granted most of them except for those wanting to continue hybrid for the remainder of the year.

“April 5 is a rushed and arbitrary date, poorly timed due to the vaccine rollout and the fact that many schools still do not have the resources they need to safely host students at a full capacity,” said Jessica Tang, president of the Boston Teachers Union. “We fully support the district’s request to delay, and urge the Baker administration to delay the reopening schedule until no sooner than April 26 in order to give school communities the time and resources they need to adapt.”

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