Boston Public Schools awaiting response from state for online school option in fall

Boston Public Schools has asked the state for clearance to offer an online school option in the fall and is expecting to hear back early next month, according to Superintendent Brenda Cassellius.

“We want to be able to have a real online school as an option for families who still either have health or mental health conditions and they’re not able to do school, or where school worked well for some of our students in a remote environment,” Cassellius said on GBH News Boston Public Radio on Friday.

The district submitted an application to the state for such a virtual school and expects a response the first week of June, Cassellius said.

“Then from there we have to stand up another virtual school,” Cassellius said.

The online school would not resemble remote learning as it stands right now, the superintendent said, “We don’t anticipate doing simultaneous teaching next year,” which is having teachers instruct an in-person class and remote students at the same time.

For those not interested in learning online, Cassellius said students are expected to be back to school in the fall “like normal, but better.”

A recent five-day return to the classroom for all students up to eighth grade has shown some prefer to stick with remote learning.

One third of BPS students who have been invited back to the classroom for five days of in-person learning have chosen to stay remote, according to data from the district as of April 30.

Out of the entire BPS population, just 46{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} of students are currently learning in person, as previously reported in the Herald.

That includes high school students, who have not yet had an opportunity to go back to the classroom full time. About half of high school students are remote and half are hybrid.

Per state mandate, on May 17 all high school students will be invited back to the classroom.

Children age 12 and older are now eligible to receive a Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, which was authorized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration earlier this week.

Cassellius said she hasn’t made a decision about mandating coronavirus vaccination for students.

“I don’t have a date on when we’ll make that decision. But, you know, we’ll make it as soon as we can because we do understand parents have to make decisions for school,” Cassellius said.

Gov. Charlie Baker has said there are no plans to mandate coronavirus vaccination in public school students.

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