Public schools in Boston are switching to remote-only learning beginning Thursday amid a surging COVID-19 infection rate, city officials said.
Mayor Martin Walsh and Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius announced the shift Wednesday while citing the city’s seven-day average COVID-19 positive test rate at 5.7% — an increase from 4.5% one week earlier.
“We have said all along that we will only provide in-person learning for students if the data and public health guidance supports it, and this new data shows that we are trending in the wrong direction,” Walsh said in a statement.
Students will remain in remote-only learning classes until there are two weeks of falling infection rates, Walsh and Cassellius said. Those with special needs, including students with disabilities, will have the option to return for in-person classes once the city’s seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate reaches 5% or below.
The district will then start the phased return of all students once the rate is at 4% or below for two consecutive weeks, city officials said.
The cancellation impacts about 2,600 high-needs students who had resumed in-class instruction on Oct. 1, the Boston Globe reported.
The move will also likely further delay the return of students who had been learning remotely since the start of the school year on Sept. 21. Roughly 51,200 students are enrolled in the district this year, the newspaper reported.
Some students meanwhile told the newspaper they were disheartened by the news.
“I learn more when I’m in school,” Jose Maldonado, an 18-year-old student at Boston International Newcomers Academy in Dorchester, told the newspaper in Spanish. “We want to get through school quickly … Missing a year affects us a lot.”
Maldonado, who had attended in-person classes two days a week, said he’s still learning English after arriving in Boston a year ago from Honduras.
“I’m going to learn less [this year],” he said. “But what option do I have?”