Andrea Campbell calls for “Teacher Vaccination Week” and other action to ensure Boston Public Schools can reopen by the end of the school year
Campbell also releases her long-term education plan to address student learning loss and transform Boston Public Schools into an equitable, high-achieving district for all students.
BOSTON – Today, Boston City Councilor and mayoral candidate Andrea Campbell called for the City of Boston to hold a “Teacher Vaccination Week,” where Boston teachers are prioritized for vaccination in an effort to get students back to school in-person as soon as possible.
This week, the CDC released guidance for reopening schools that encouraged, but did not mandate, teacher vaccinations as a prerequisite for opening schools. Councilor Campbell believes vaccinating teachers is critically important to protecting their health and safety. Her plan to hold a series of mass vaccination events for teachers in Boston would guarantee that enough teachers would be vaccinated for schools to reopen shortly afterwards. Campbell believes that before the end of this school year, every child and family in Boston should have the ability to choose whether they go back to school in-person, with hybrid and fully remote models existing for those who do not.
“Many Boston families are desperate for their children to return to in-person learning, and I believe it’s critical that all families have the opportunity to do so – safely – before the end of this school year,” Campbell said. “We also need to make sure that our teachers’ health and safety is protected, which is why I’m calling for a Teacher Vaccination Week in the City of Boston.”
Twenty-six states currently allow some or all teachers to have priority access to the COVID-19 vaccines, but Massachusetts isn’t one of them. On Monday, Speaker Ron Mariano called for teachers to be moved “to the head of the line” for vaccinations. Last week, Councilor Campbell criticized the state’s “companion” policy, which allows anyone accompanying a person 75 or older to also be vaccinated.
Today, Campbell also released a comprehensive education plan to address student learning loss during the pandemic, elevate the quality of all Boston Public Schools, and transform Boston Public Schools into a more equitable district so that every Boston student has access to an excellent public education and opportunities that will prepare them for success.
“Ensuring all our Boston Public Schools are excellent and prepare every child for success is a deeply personal priority for me as a leader, as a mother, as a proud BPS graduate, and as someone who knows personally what is at stake when this system fails our students, as it failed my own twin brother who died nine years ago while a pre-trial detainee,” said Councilor Campbell. “When I reflect on how twins born and raised in Boston could have such different life outcomes, one clear answer is the different experiences and opportunities Andre and I had in Boston Public Schools. We need bold, consistent leadership to transform our school system to one that is equitable and high-achieving for every student. We can and must do this while safely reopening our schools and recovering from this pandemic.”
Campbell’s plan details six key strategies:
- Make BPS more transparent and accountable to families. Andrea will build a culture of honesty and transparency between the district, BPS staff, and families, especially amidst COVID-19 ensuring consistent communication about school reopening, classroom safety conditions, and access to surveillance testing, and vaccinations. She will invest in supports for students to make up for lost learning with academic and mental health supports, high dosage tutoring, and strong summer learning programs.
- Reimagine the role of central office to empower and trust educators and families. Andrea believes schools are accountable for supporting students and families, and the central office must be accountable to schools – not the other way around. Andrea will hold central office accountable for setting expectations for all schools, such as common graduation requirements, high quality curriculums, and adherence to compliance, while allowing schools to control more decision-making and resources so that our highly skilled educators can implement creative and culturally relevant ways of engaging students and families.
- Nurture high quality learning environments in every school, for every learner. Andrea will ensure BPS implements high quality curriculum and graduation standards consistently across schools, embraces the linguistic and cultural diversity of our students by implementing effective English Learner and special education programs across the district, provides diverse pathways for success and careers through our high schools, and leverages school partners to ensure students have arts, athletics, and applied learning opportunities outside of school. She will close the gap in early childhood and Pre-K education by building a long term plan for free universal childcare and education from birth to age 5.
- Ensure equitable access to quality schools. The current school assignment process is highly inequitable, where families who live in downtown neighborhoods have an 80% chance of getting their student into a high-quality BPS school while families in Mattapan only have a 5%. Andrea will implement research-backed recommendations to improve equity in school assignment, place special education and English Learner programs more evenly across the city, and overhaul the welcome centers and enrollment process to make it easier for students and families to choose and enroll in a school.
- Get operations right. Andrea will increase the capital budget to accelerate improvements to school buildings and restart BuildBPS, close the digital divide to ensure every student has access to internet and technology to be able to successfully learn remotely (if and when necessary), and make school transportation more efficient and responsive to families’ needs, less expensive, and more environmentally sustainable.
- Build a diverse and robust talent pipeline in BPS. Andrea will increase recruitment of educators of color by building partnerships with local higher education institutions to create a pipeline into opportunities at BPS, invest in development opportunities for teachers and school leaders, particularly in technology, research-backed curriculum, social and emotional learning, and language programs to better connect with EL students, and reimagine the role of central office to better support principals to improve principal tenure.
The plan Campbell released today builds upon a plan for Boston Public Schools she released in 2019 called Action For Boston Children that offered strategies and action steps the Superintendent and Administration could take to make the district more equitable and high-quality, few of which were acted upon, as well as her COVID-19 recovery plan which outlines important steps around school reopening. Of any candidate in this race, Andrea has released the most comprehensive plans for the Boston Public Schools.
Campbell is already taking action towards implementing pieces of her education plan. Today, she filed orders for three hearings to discuss the City’s strategies to address learning loss due to the pandemic and expand access to programs to support our highest-need learners, specifically:
- An order for a hearing to discuss how summer learning for 2021 can be expanded to address learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and how the summer months can be used to prepare and plan for the 2021-2022 school year;
- An order for a hearing to discuss academic programs and supports for English Learner students, plans to expand these programs and supports to address learning loss during the COVID-19 pandemic, and full implementation of the LOOK Bill;
- An order for a hearing to discuss the status of the City’s pre-K investment in the expansion of seats for four year olds, opportunities to expand access to high-quality pre-K seats and assist community based organizations and providers in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a more comprehensive plan to create universal pre-K from birth to five years old.
View Campbell’s full plan for a Boston Public Schools system that prepares every child for success here.
Last week, Campbell released a comprehensive economic recovery plan, and in January, released three public health plans, including a COVID-19 recovery plan and a plan to address the crisis at Mass & Cass. Over the next few weeks and months, Campbell will release more of her policy platform, including plans on public safety and criminal justice, housing, transportation, environmental justice and climate resilience, and more.