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Boston schools will remain open next week; BPS says parents can pull kids out without penalty

Update: Walsh announced tonight that schools will close on Tuesday and remain shut until April 27.

Mayor Walsh announced this morning that "there will be school Monday and there will be school next week."

Separately, Codman Academy, a charter school in Dorchester, told parents it's closing at noon today and will stay closed through at least March 27 - but will be doing some online learning with students.

Speaking at a press conference on the Marathon, Walsh said he would have more to say on Sunday about plans for BPS.

One BPS school, the Eliot in the North End, is already shut due to a confirmed Covid-19 case in somebody affiliated with the school and is scheduled to re-open on Thursday.

BPS says:

We understand that some parents may choose, out of an abundance of caution, to keep their child at home despite the recommendations of public health experts. If parents do decide not to send their child to school, the absence must be accompanied by a parent/guardian letter or email to the school. These absences will be excused.

Unlike many of the suburban districts that announced school closings, Boston has a large population of students who depend on schools for not just education but more basic needs, such as meals.

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But I think his hand will be forced soon enough.

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Voting closed 54

But still offer meals through a pickup / takeout program?

There are other options then a simple open / closed. Let be creative!

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Many jobs cannot be done at home. There are very limited childcare choices when schools are closed. Parents lose income when they cannot work.

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Why can't BPS offer low density childcare to families who need it? They can hire their hourly workers - substitute teachers, instructional assistants, etc who would be missing a paycheck otherwise and keep the kids in classrooms of ten or less. The problem with a typical school day is that you have 30 kids in a single small classroom and in the upper grades they change classes - interacting with hundreds of other students each day. Each school day is essentially a big convention.

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Voting closed 38

Please. “Low Density Child Care”. Ok. We will get right on that.

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Schools can operate an after school program to a certain limitation. After a certain point state laws governing such programs kick in which requires specific training of individuals. Being a school teacher is not enough, nor some type of assistant. The state regulation also requires a far-stricter background check that extends beyond what the city does to its employees, and even if the staff person meets the criteria otherwise, you have to be run through the state system.

This is due to strings attached to federal funds that trickle down to fund these programs.

The background checks by the state include criminal background (national), sexual offender background (national), Dept of Children and Families complaints (MA), possession of a valid SSA number, permission to work in the USA, valid ID, and get finger-printed and checked in the national FBI database. The state Dept of Early Education and Care notified many after school programs a year back that they must comply with state law and meet these criteria. many community centers offering the equivalent of after school childcare via various "clubs" and other programs have to conform which may require the city to hire-in outside companies that can meet the criteria..

Many families are already using extended day school programs as their form of after school childcare but those receiving a state subsidy to offset the cost of childcare are required by statute to use only a facility licensed under their program that meet the above conditions.

As noted, the certifications and educational requirements are not the same as that of school teacher and the average licensed school teacher in Boston, nor any of their associate staff does not meet the state requirement. Many would have to take additional college courses in Early Childhood Development as well as certificate courses at various educational institutions. Many would have to complete "hours worked in the field" as well in order to meet requirements to operate a program. It is not as easy as one might think, and the child safety requirements are getting stricter.

Worth noting that starting last year, teenagers working in state EEC licensed programs as summer Jr. camp counselors had to go through the state background check and finger printing... no exceptions. This is also required for program volunteers.

If your child is in an after school program, now you may want to check to see if it is actually a school extended day program operated by the city and its people, or if they have hired -in a company that meets the state requirements.

As to school closures... it is likely after school programs may also be required to close if there are any suspected cases at any of these kid's schools.

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Voting closed 11

Is it possible that the most effective way of achieving this is simply to keep the schools open, but encourage those who can stay home to do so? I'm not arguing for this, just wondering how it compares to the other options. I don't know that the BPS has any resources to offer low-density child care that would be better or more effective than the child care facilities it already has, the schools.

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Do you really think the Boston Teacher's Union would OK this? There's no way this would be authorized by the collective bargaining agreement or that the union would approve.

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I’m pretty sure that’s in the contract.

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Well BPS could start by offering hand sanitizer and tissues. A teacher just posted that they have nothing in stock and also that a child who shook hands with an infected sports player was sent home sick and still nothing is changing. WTF is Marty thinking?

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what he's essentially doing is forcing people to choose between earning their living if they have no childcare, or the potential health risks of their family and broader community if the kids keep going. Marty is wrong on all levels.

Let's see what 2021 brings.

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Parents will also lose income if they have to stay home to care for sick children or if they themselves become sick. There’s no easy solution here.

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Those receiving a state subsidy voucher to offset the cost of childcare while working also face loss of the voucher of they work less than the agreed number of hours at their job. Their kids attendance at state licensed programs (absences) also count against the voucher usage. Hopefully the state will adjust under the current circumstances but it is likely they will need to figure something out on the fly with this one.

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Teachers aren't babysitters

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Not to be rude but parents are definitely going to lose income if their child brings the virus home because the schools weren't closed....

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It's not a simple dilemma. By law children under a certain age cannot be left home alone; not all parents/guardians can afford to do that and may not have additional resources (paid caretakers, other family) to provide that care.

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Public schools are an essential public service, an educational one. Keeping them open to serve as welfare agencies in the face of a national crisis is insane.

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The Eliot School can afford to shut down. The demographic is predominantly white, upper class. No school - no problem! Mommy's Land Rover is in the driveway, and the refrigerator is stocked. This crisis is shining a spotlight on the socio-economic disparities in Boston Public Schools, and in our larger culture.

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Your class envy slip is showing. The Eliot is a great community with many working families. I swear to Christ this comments section is filled with people who hate success.

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It’s a public school with entry by lottery. It’s also currently the only school in Boston with an actual coronavirus case. The fact that this is your immediate response to a school closing is pretty sad.

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Schools in WR are not?

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So wrong lol. You realize many residents of the north end can’t go to the Elliot? They get bussed out of the neighborhood. If there was an outbreak at any other school, it would close. Stop making this about race you dummy

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Your comment is atrocious and not true. The Eliot community was directly exposed (not through a parent or spouse outside the building) to someone who is sick. The community is scared and exposed. Piling on the usual vitriol and jealousy towards this school is horrible. The Eliot itself quickly mobilized to get chrome casts for remote access for kids who don’t have it and also organized four food drop off points IN ONE DAY and ON THEIR OWN. They have a vulnerable population and the community supports all the kids. You should be so lucky. Division like you sew is already and normally a disservice to public schools generally but saying this now is irresponsible and a lie. Not an alternative fact or a hoax- a lie.

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And since The Governor declared a state of emergency I advise anyone who can keep your kids home to do so .
The state mandated minimum amount of days required has been suspended with the state of emergency, I think.
Correct me if I'm wrong

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The state mandated minimum amount of days required has been suspended with the state of emergency, I think.

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Check the DESE website.

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https://patch.com/massachusetts/andover/governor-declared-state-emergenc...

"The state also made changes to school policy for this year. No school will be required to remain in session past the end of June, regardless of how many days they have been in session, and data past March 2 will be disregarded for chronic absenteeism purposes."

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I hadn't heard that.

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