BOSTON – Friday, March 13, 2020 – Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius today announced the district-wide closure of all Boston Public Schools for students, effective on Tuesday, March 17. At this time, schools are expected to reopen on Monday, April 27, following April vacation. Schools will be open for a regular school day on Monday, March 16 to allow the flexibility needed to ensure a smooth transition that will allow for parents to plan, students to gather belongings, and the distribution of any learning materials that are ready for use at home.
At this time, there is no known public health risk facing the Boston Public Schools as a whole. The decision to close schools is being made proactively to mitigate and contain the spread of the virus, and follows the declaration of a national emergency that was announced earlier today.
Should the situation with coronavirus improve on a faster timeline than expected, Mayor Walsh and Superintendent Cassellius will look into reopening schools before April 27 if that is what is best for Boston’s school communities.
“My priority will always be to protect the health and safety of the residents of Boston,” said Mayor Walsh. “The decision to close schools was extremely difficult to make and follows several days of robust planning to ensure that we are still able to provide our students with the services they need even with schools being closed. I want to thank Boston’s principals, teachers, and school leadership for their collaboration and input during a very serious and quickly evolving situation to ensure that we are living up to our commitment of putting the well-being of our school communities at the forefront of everything that we do.”
The announcement of school closure is being shared immediately to give parents, caretakers and families time to plan for childcare and other considerations that may need to be made. Beginning on Wednesday of next week through Friday, faculty and staff of each school will return to their respective buildings to continue to work on learning materials so that students can continue to learn.
“I will always measure every decision in child benefit. Today and always, their health and safety, as well as that of our staff, and families, is our top priority,” said Superintendent Brenda Cassellius. “In collaboration with Mayor Walsh and Health and Human Services Chief Martinez, BPS has been actively developing a plan to support our community during this rapidly changing situation. I am incredibly grateful to our teachers, school leaders, custodians, food service workers, bus drivers, and all the staff at BPS for their commitment to our children.”
On Sunday, Mayor Walsh and Boston Public Schools will communicate with school communities and families with further plans on how to support students and families during the closure, including details on picking up meals for the students who rely on the daily free breakfasts and lunches BPS provides to students. In addition, Boston Public Schools will be working with schools and teachers to ensure learning materials are available for students to use at home to the fullest possible extent possible.
“The Boston School Committee thanks our 10,000 teachers, school leaders, and staff, who will rise to the occasion to support our community in these times,” said Michael Loconto, Boston School Committee Chairperson. “Working with Mayor Walsh and our City’s public services, our Boston Public Schools will provide students with tools to maintain their education and return to school ready to learn and achieve.”
As of Friday, March 13, there are 123 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts and 25 in Boston. The Boston Public Health Commission will be providing additional information as it is received from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Visit boston.gov/coronavirus for up-to-date information and answers to commonly asked questions.
On Wednesday, March 11, the Boston Public Health Commission, in conjunction with the Boston Public Schools, announced the closure of the three campuses of the Eliot K-8 School after a non student member of the school’s community tested positive for COVID-19. The Eliot School will remain closed as part of the BPS district wide closures.
To protect Bostonians and their families from the spread of the virus, residents are reminded to practice caution: wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol; avoid shaking hands; cover your coughs and sneezes; clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces; and avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you think you might be symptomatic, call your doctor or 311 to be connected to the Mayor’s Health Line. Residents are also reminded to practice social distancing: keep your distance from others (six feet apart); do not take public transportation, taxis or ride-shares during this period; avoid crowded places.
Additional details about the various plans to support students throughout the closure will be distributed to families on Sunday.