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Andrea Campbell to Acting Mayor Janey: Boston Needs a Real Plan for School Reopening and Lost Learning Time

Aug 25, 2021

Campbell Releases ‘Back To School Checklist’ to push for school safety and facilities improvements before BPS schools reopen

BOSTON – With two weeks until Boston Public Schools reopen on September 9th, Boston City Councilor and mayoral candidate Andrea Campbell today released a ‘Back to School Checklist’ to push for key measures to support student learning and a safe, seamless school reopening, including several safety measures and facilities improvements to protect students, teachers, and staff amidst the rise of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With only two weeks until schools reopen, teachers and BPS families should be confident that sending their children to school will be safe. And it’s devastating that most folks I talk to do not feel confident, especially in their school facilities,” Councilor Campbell said. “The last year and a half has taken its toll on many of our students, particularly those most vulnerable, and the Delta variant presents yet another challenge for the upcoming school year. The good news is that we have an opportunity with the federal stimulus dollars to ensure follow through on promises made to students, families and staff, that our schools can be safe, supportive learning environments, and that our students have everything they need to be successful. Now is the moment to make sure we are ready for a smooth start to the school year.”

While the City has announced a mask mandate for all Boston Public Schools and is requiring teachers and BPS staff to provide proof of vaccination (or weekly COVID-19 testing for those with exemptions from getting the vaccine), the vaccine requirement for BPS staff will not go into effect until September 20th, which Campbell has criticized as “too late,” and families need transparency and clarity on how these safety measures will be implemented and enforced.

Last night, BPS held a virtual community meeting to discuss some of their back to school plans and answer questions, but the meeting capped at 1000 people and had no livestream, which Campbell said was “completely unacceptable.”

Campbell is calling on the City and district to provide:

  • Basic air quality and temperature control in every classroom — ideally working HVAC, but at a minimum, windows that open and fans — and a timeline and public dashboard reporting the status of all facilities improvements

  • A system to track proof of vaccination for all BPS staff

  • Regular COVID-19 testing of students and staff to ensure BPS catches outbreaks early

  • PPE for every teacher and classroom

  • A clear, individualized plan to help each student recover lost learning time – including proven supports like high-dosage tutoring, and mental health support for every student who needs it

  • A clear plan with tangible goals for spending nearly half a billion dollars in federal stimulus

Despite promises made to students and families that every student would have access to free summer programming, less than a quarter of BPS students enrolled in summer programming and many families never heard about opportunities for their students.

Campbell has consistently called for greater urgency and accountability around how the City of Boston and Boston Public Schools is spending an unprecedented $400M in federal relief funding for education. Earlier this year, Campbell outlined her priorities for the federal funding which include funding for immediate facilities improvements including HVAC systems, academic and social-emotional supports for all students during the summer and school year for the next three years, and supporting educators to plan for a seamless reopening in the fall.