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BPS puts off further re-opening of schools another week due to rising coronavirus numbers

Boston Public Schools announced today it's delaying the return of young elementary-school students to in-school classes another week, from Oct. 22 to Oct. 29 - but says that "High In-Person Priority" students who were already going to school two days a week can now start going four days a week for classes and support services.

The delay means that most students in kindergarten through third grade will remain in front of their screens at home. BPS had originally hoped to have them start going to school again for at least part of the school week yesterday.

The announcement was made in consultation with public health officials and in reviewing data that show an uptick in confirmed positive cases across the entire City of Boston, with the citywide infection rate now being 4.4%. Boston Public Schools (BPS) consults daily with Boston’s public health officials to review data and make decisions about students and staff returning to schools. The delay of one week will allow for the City to continue implementing safety protocols to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to continue reviewing data to make informed decisions about offering in-person learning.

BPS added:

Due in part to the delay of the next phase of students returning to schools, BPHC sent a letter to Superintendent Cassellius noting that schools can now accommodate students with High In-Person priority up to four days a week in schools. The letter notes for the Superintendent: “Given the safety, prevention and public health protocols BPS has adopted and physical facilities preparation that have been put in place, the Boston Public Health Commission has determined that schools can expand offering in-person learning to the high priority students with their teachers and other staff on site to a four-days a week schedule.”

Officials say that parents can keep their children at home for remote learning.

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Focus on solving remote challenges as best as possible, re-evaluate post February vacation week. If this environment isn’t safe, there won’t be one until Spring. COVID numbers improving is a pipe dream barring backing up to phase 1 for a bit. Best hope is flat to modest worsening with flat probably a pipe dream too.

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It seems like we're replaying the "we'll just shut down the schools for two weeks" scenario from back in March.

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If not for certain neighborhoods, Boston would be well under a 4 percent positive rate.

East Boston residents seem to have gotten the picture, coming down but still above that. Roxbury and parts of Dorchester are still way high, and residents of Hyde Park are utterly clueless.


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To say that the 10.5% positive rate for Hyde Park needs context to mean something. How many tests are residents taking? This leads to the more important question- how many new cases are there in a neighborhood? Or to put it another way, if three times the number of Hyde Park residents got tested during the latest period reported, the positive rate theoretically could be as low as 3% New case numbers are the better metric. Positive test rate basically means they are not testing enough.

My favorite example of statistics lying during this period was the Covid rate for zip codes 02115/02215. The bulk of the population in those zip codes are on campus college students. When the BPHC started putting out stats in the spring, the neighborhood looked to be the safest in the city, which is an easy accomplishment when over half the residents left town. Nowadays, their positive rate is 1.0%, which is incredible, until you realize that the colleges are doing widespread testing. Meanwhile, they are reporting 1.5% of the population has tested positive for Covid since all of this began, which is impressive until you realize, again, that the population was absent for the bulk of the reporting time.

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The average person saw your post, read the first sentence, and stopped. No one wants to work to understand, they just want information in easily-digestible pieces (sadly).

All the data you are discussing are readily available but how many people take the time to read and understand?

Regarding your point, I totally agree about Allston/Brighton. Other neighborhoods, though, probably have a steady population, plus for neighborhoods with high college-aged populations, I think enough time has passed (6 weeks) that increases/decreases aren't skewed, any longer.

"We need more testing" was the mantra earlier this year, and apparently it is today, as well. Before, everyone liked pointing fingers at Washington but that doesn't cut it any more. It's all on us, now. And, putting up a truck in Maverick Square for a week isn't going to cut it. The schools test 3x per week; without that level of attention, we're going to be flying blind.

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When I heard of this metric, it made me wonder "what percentage of women in the maternity ward are pregnant?"
A truly useful metric would require a large percentage of the population to be tested, rather than simply people with reason to think they have been exposed.

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The neighborhoods that have high numbers have much higher rates of hourly workers who cannot work remotely and who live in higher density, multigenerational homes. They are not “clueless”, they just don’t have the privilege of being to work at a laptop or afford a one bedroom apartment on their own.

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First, no one gets a free pass on this; each of us has a responsibility.

Second, no one has ever proven that what you said happens happens. Sources please.

Third, excuses stop being acceptable when what you do affects everyone else.

Fourth, plenty of people go to and from work every day and somehow find a way to stay healthy. Viruses don't spread by magic.

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