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Boston parents push to restore in-person learning for high-needs students

Boston Herald - 10/29/2020

Oct. 29--Boston parents are pushing to restore in-person instruction for high-needs students after the district recently switched to full remote learning, but some say plans from district are yet to be formed.

"The rug was literally just pulled from under these children's feet," said Roxann Harvey, chair of the Boston Special Education Parent Advisory Council.

Boston Public Schools abruptly switched to all remote last week as coronavirus rates in the city continue to rise, leaving high-needs students that were previously getting in-person instruction back at home.

Harvey said the kids are regressing, and SpedPac is asking the district for a plan to get the students the services they so desperately need.

"There's been a lot of disappointment and a lot of hurt. We are moving past it, we want to work with the district and the union to get services for high-needs students," Harvey said.

On Wednesday, Boston families advocating for the return of in-person learning joined outside City Hall to call attention to the issue.

Erica Haydock, BPS parent said, "It's unacceptable for the city to just sort of kick these kids out without any sort of notice."

"We want clear communication from BPS that's proactive and not week-by-week to allow families to adapt to the changing realities of helping to educate students during a public health crisis," Haydock said.

The Boston Teachers Union said in a statement it has worked with parent groups on proposals that would help facilitate safe in-person learning for students who need it most.

"BPS needs to take immediate action to agree on and implement the plans, priorities, and safety guidelines that are jointly supported by so many educators and families," said BTU president Jessica Tang.

During a Tuesday City Council hearing, BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius said the district is working on bringing some students back into the safest buildings, but called on the public to help.

"We are not going to be bale to bring our children back to school unless we all follow the public health guidance and we really do need everyone to take this extremely serious," Cassellius said.

Under BPS guidelines, high-needs students can start to filter back in once the citywide coronavirus test positive rate sits at five or below. It currently stands at 7.8%.

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