Mayor Marty Walsh today announced the start of the "hybrid" model for most Boston public-school students has been delayed at least a week, from Oct. 15 to Oct. 22, because of a testing positivity rate citywide that now exceeds 4% for the first time since early June.
The delay does not apply to the roughly 1,300 "highest-needs students" who have been attending school since last week, he said. School for these special-needs students, students who are homeless or in DCF care or who are English learners will continue to receive education in BPS schools. "We are their chance for success to help them move forward," he said. "We cannot take this away from them now, so soon after they started last week. There's too much at stake for our youngest people. ... Every day matters."
"For so many of our students they need this support" from "the caring adults who love them," School Superintendent Brenda Casellius said, adding no more than 50 students are at one school at any one time. She said BPS schools are safe after months of upgrade work that included replacing stuck windows and upgrading ventilation systems. She added schools are sanitized frequently and are well stocked with masks and sanitizer.
Roxann Harvey, chair of a citywide special-ed parents group, said in-school learning is vital. She said so many students have "regressed and decomposed so much," over the past six months. Just in the past few days, "we are seeing a change," in students, she said.
Boston Health and Human Services Chief Marty Martinez said that as of Sunday, the percentage of Bostonians testing positive on Covid-19 tests hit 4.1%. Hyde Park saw a significant increase, while Dorchester, which had earlier shown a relative high rate, stayed steady. East Boston, which has long had the city's highest rate, showed a small decline, he said.
The city had set a 4% testing rate as its threshold for deciding whether to pause the return to in-school education. Walsh said that's a "conservative" number.
For the week ending Oct. 3, according to Boston Public Health Commission figures, Hyde Park now has the highest positivity rate in the city, at 8.2%.
Next are 02125 in Dorchester and 02121, which includes parts of Dorchester and Roxbury, at 8.1%. East Boston, which had long had the highest rate in the city, is now at 7.7%.