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A message from Commissioner McCosh: School reopenings

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Disabilities Commission

A weekly message from Commissioner McCosh in support of the local disability community.

Dear Disability Community Members, 

Can you believe that tomorrow is September 1st? Now September is rolling in, bringing cooler temperatures, the start of foliage, and the first day of school, which always has added meaning in Boston because we have so many college students who move into the city every year. Their college experience will look very different this year, along with students in every grade from kindergarten through high school.

The Boston Public Schools (BPS) will be opening a bit later this year. Students will begin the 2020 school year learning remotely on Monday, September 21, followed by a phase-in of the hybrid model, bringing students back in person, grade by grade. Students with disabilities will be prioritized for in-person learning to ensure the best outcome of their individual education plans.

BPS is contacting all families to ask their selection between hybrid and remote learning.

If you haven't heard from BPS or if you have a question, please call 617-635-9520 or email reopening@bostonpublicschools.org. If space is available, BPS will be reaching out to the families of many of our most vulnerable learners to determine whether they would prefer more than two days of in-school learning.

Also, the BPS Behavioral Health Services team is offering for FREE weekly family coffee hours to discuss a variety of parenting topics! The next (and last) coffee hour will be this Thursday, September 3rd. For more information on the coffee hour and to register, click here or visit BPS Twitter.

Like school districts across the country, the Boston Public School system has worked very hard to create a reopening plan that will be successful. However, along with their planning, BPS leaders also understand that there are a lot of moving pieces related to reopening schools. Therefore, they’ve created a basic framework to help students and families get through the next few months. It is outlined below.

Boston Public Schools - Guiding Principles for Today and the Future: 

  • Remain Flexible: Keep in mind that we are currently in the midst of a pandemic, and the future is still unpredictable. We will keep planning for the future, but we must remain flexible to keep our community safe and healthy.
  • Monitor Emerging Scientific Recommendations: We will continue to be guided by data and science, and will review all updates.
  • Adhere to the Recommendations of Health Officials: We continuously receive recommendations from the Boston Public Health Commission, State officials, and the City of Boston on how to keep our students, staff, and families as healthy as possible. We will use these recommendations as guardrails for our planning.
  • Recognize that Things will Change: While we can plan for the future, emerging science, our local COVID-19 numbers, and changing recommendations from health officials will mean that we will need to make changes as we go.

As I mentioned at the beginning, our COVID-19 rates remain low, but it’s not time to stop yet. It’s more important now than ever that we keep up social distancing, hand washing, and staying home if you feel sick. We’re on the right track - so keep it up for a bit longer!

In closing, I’d like to remind you of two important things:

  • Tomorrow, September 1, is the primary election! Because of the late date, the only option to vote tomorrow is in-person - so if you go out to the polls, be sure to adhere to public health protocols.
  • Take the 2020 US Census - remember that September 30th is the deadline! Your voice matters and we want you to be counted. It only takes a few minutes! 

Why not complete your civic duties all in one day? Tomorrow, September 1st, plan to vote and then complete the census!

I hope everyone in the disability community is doing well. As always, please feel free to reach out to us if you need assistance. You can dial 311 to reach City Hall, or call us at 617-635-3682. Our email is disability@boston.gov and the latest updates are available at Boston.gov

Until next week, please stay informed, stay safe, and stay cool.

Sincerely,

Commissioner Kristen McCosh