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Covid-19 outbreak reported at Boston Latin School

Boston Latin School notified parents tonight of a recent spike in Covid-19 cases - 36 over the past week, with most of them being reported just today.

The timing, right before Christmas break, at least, is fortuitous: Last month, BPS and city health officials shut the Curley School in Jamaica Plain following an outbreak there.

In an e-mail, BLS Head of School Rachel Skerritt wrote:

The uptick and clustering of positive cases in just the last two days is extremely concerning. There are 36 new cases reported this week, with the majority of those reported just today. Many of these cases are the result of unmasked or improperly masked contact between students outside of school time, including weekend social events and contact amongst some of our athletic teams. Most of our cases this week have involved students in the upper grades. Very few of our cases to date this year have been from classroom transmission, which speaks to the effectiveness of mask use and ventilation. We are in active communication with BPS Health Services as well as the Boston Public Health Commission and additional BPS departments to ensure that identified clusters and patterns are being addressed.

Skerritt continued that "each of our actions, both inside and outside of these walls, affects all of us," and urged parents to take a number of steps over the coming Christmas break:

Keep students home if they display any symptoms, even if mild, such as a sore throat, or if they express concerns about prior exposure and do not have symptoms. Most of our positive cases have exhibited only minor symptoms, particularly in our students who are fully vaccinated. Please be vigilant. Students who need to miss school, including tomorrow, December 23, will receive an excused absence if the parent or guardian completes the online student absence form. All students with an excused absence will receive full makeup privileges for any assignment or assessment that they miss, and will not be penalized in any way. If you are awaiting test results due to known contact, err on the side of caution and stay home.

Limit exposure over the winter break to those outside of your household. We know that many families are going through extensive safety measures to ensure that they can spend time with relatives, including PCR testing and quarantine. What we particularly caution against is unmasked social time among students, regardless of vaccination status. I have received messages from parents and students concerned about students’ behavior during times (such as the weekend) where we cannot control students’ and families’ choices. I am asking for your help as parents, guardians, and students to make the tough calls as we see a surge in cases across the Commonwealth and country. I am setting those same expectations for myself and my family, as well as our faculty and staff.

Also, students should save one of the two Covid-19 home tests they got today for Jan. 3, the day before school re-opens. Students across the BPS district were sent home with similar instructions for the kits they got.

This will help limit the number of positive cases when we open our doors next calendar year.

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Comments

All students with an excused absence will receive full makeup privileges for any assignment or assessment that they miss, and will not be penalized in any way

BLS students know better than to believe that.

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I'm a senior at BLS. 15+ of those cases are seniors who went to an unmasked indoor party over the weekend. They went to school on Monday and and Tuesday, then many of them found out they had the virus. Some partygoers either tested negative or didn't test and still showed up to school on Wednesday.

Those classmates' stupidity and selfishness is incredibly frustrating for the rest of us. Many of us are now scared to go to school, worrying about whether we caught covid, wondering if we'll have to cancel Christmas, etc. Needless to say, there's a lot of tension and drama happening in the class of '22 right now.

Another poster mentioned that we know better than to believe that we'll get full makeup privileges after being absent. That is absolutely true. I know so many kids who refuse to stay home when they have serious illnesses because it's just too overwhelming to return to school after an absence and some teachers don't follow the rules. Some kids' parents force them to go to school no matter what. But that's still not an excuse to put other people in danger.

I just hope that the plan to take the rapid tests before returning to school helps. I would hate to get shut down because of my classmates' irresponsibility.

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Thank you for sharing. High school is tough. Can’t imagine how tough school with covid is, and you’re about to enter year three of that mess. Again, thanks for sharing. Thanks for being responsible and good luck.

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A good way to stop this will be to rescind college admission for anyone who does this.

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Some people, who were most likely vaccinated, didn't wear masks and now you want to end their academic careers?

Really? Can we hit you with a baseball bat in the gut if you cause an accident on the XWay and screw up the commute for a few thousand people?

Based on your sense of law and order, that seems fair.

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A good way to stop this will be to rescind college admission for anyone who does this.

How exactly do you suppose that would happen? Like, do you think there's some kind of coordination between BPS and all the colleges and universities everywhere?

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"Another poster mentioned that we know better than to believe that we'll get full makeup privileges after being absent. That is absolutely true. I know so many kids who refuse to stay home when they have serious illnesses because it's just too overwhelming to return to school after an absence and some teachers don't follow the rules."

When I was at BLS in the very early 70s, a student would get one of those draconian "misdemeanor marks" for being late. It didn't matter in the least that we were taking the T (no school buses back then) from far flung parts of the city and the T is given to, you know, DELAYS.

Back then we also had rogue teachers who thought they were judge and jury unto themselves and made up their own laws. Even back then I wondered how they managed to get away with it. Can't BLS keep track of these renegade teachers and crack down on them?

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Can't BLS keep track of these renegade teachers and crack down on them?

No. Nor do they want to. Random cruelty is part of the package.

Students can get detention for even talking about teachers breaking rules… or laws.

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As someone who graduated from BLS in the past 10 years, this is SO not the case. The school has problems. This isn't one of them.

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Misdemeanor marks are still around! Not to brag or anything, but I don't think I've ever gotten one (knock on wood...). Nowadays, if there's some significant T problem sometimes they'll excuse all tardies.

I must say that BLS seems to be a generally kinder place now than it used to be. I have had some really great teachers over these past six years, and many or most of the teachers are pretty nice and try to be understanding. The administration has put rules and programs in place to support us. However, you're totally right about the rogue teachers. Some teachers just don't follow the rules and students are often scared to speak up or don't know where to go for help.

And then there are the totally rogue teachers who say and do things (not necessarily academic-related, sometimes of questionable legality) that make me astounded that they still have a job. These incidents and the apparent lack of action make the student body feel unheard and sometimes unsafe. Rules need enforcement.

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Exams and Major essays were usually due the day before major breaks or holidays anyways, so it is safe to assume that there are quite a number of BLS kids who went to school today because of those assessments.

I had a teacher that moved up the date of a test a couple days to the day of the red sox parade in 2018 because they couldn't attend and didn't want students to go either. Still bummed about that.

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You're right. Pretty much everyone in the grade had several assessments today. Although many of my classes were about half-full, from what I heard most people who were present today would've stayed home if it weren't for the assessments.

Wow, that was unnecessary! What a classic BLS move.

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Although the teacher may indeed have been being vindictive, I still don't see why students should be given license to take the day off to attend a Red Sox parade. It's not some kind of national holiday or something. This is snowflake stuff.

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