Boston Public Schools and the Boston Teachers Union today announced a deal by which all BPS schools would start re-opening for some students next month, with all kids returning to schools for part of their weeks by April 1.
Parents would have the option to keep their children home for the rest of the school year without penalty, however.
The agreement, under which BPS agreed to limit the total number of kids in a school at one time and to install air purifiers in classrooms in schools without decent ventilation systems, would start Feb. 1, with the return of all high-needs students to their schools. Currently, only 32 BPS schools are open to these students.
On March 1, some K-3 students would return to a "hybrid" schedule, in which they will spend part of the week in school, the rest doing remote learning from home, followed by the rest on March 4. Students in grades 4-8 would then return March 15 or March 18, followed by students in grades 9-12 on March 29 and April 1.
In addition to limiting the number of students in a building at one time and air purifiers, the city also agreed to provide Covid-19 testing to teachers either at their schools or nearby, to expand a pilot student Covid-19 test system and provide additional PPE for staffers and students.
Officials said the re-opening schedule could be delayed by as much as two weeks depending on public-health concerns. Boston had originally hoped to re-open schools in October, then delayed that due to rising Covid-19 numbers across the city, except for some high-needs students, then just shut all schools again before re-opening some for high-needs students.
In a statement, BTU President Jessica Tang said:
Achieving this system-wide framework for health, safety, and staffing protocols will help us do so with essential protections for students, families, educators, and administrators alike. This framework adopts important safety standards that union educators have been advocating for on a system-wide basis in order to protect the learning experience and health of not just our high-needs students, but of all students, educators, and families throughout Boston and beyond