Update on COVID-19 Protocols in School from Superintendent
Dear BPS Families,
I hope you are all getting ready for a restful and wonderful holiday season. Thank you for your continued partnership with Boston Public Schools (BPS) and our teachers and staff at schools around the city.
We continue to monitor the number of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in our schools. We are in daily contact with the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) to review all cases and modify our approach to follow the latest guidelines as we adjust to an ever-changing virus. BPS strives to ensure health and safety protocols are in place to keep schools open for in-person learning. BPS has released a new framework to manage positive cases in schools more rapidly. The framework was designed in response to the recent announcement of a new COVID-19 variant and to mitigate and prevent the spread of cases in schools. I also want to acknowledge some of the frustrations felt by some families about not experiencing faster communication when a COVID positive case has been identified at their school, so we have added new communications tools to ensure more timely outreach.
But first, a few reminders:
Please follow the home health checklist and keep your child home if they are sick.
Please reinforce appropriate mask usage with your student(s).
Please get vaccinated and boosted as soon as you are eligible and get your student(s) vaccinated as well.
Please opt your student into school-based COVID-19 testing by contacting your school.
Please answer your phone: All contact tracing will come from phone number 857-214-7468 and email address BPScontacttracing@HealthcareITLeaders.com
Staying home when sick, properly wearing masks, and getting vaccinated/boosted are still the best ways to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our schools, and I ask for your support in following these protocols.
BPS COVID-19 Response Framework:
BPS is taking additional steps to implement new health and safety protocols in schools. I have authorized an additional $3 Million to accelerate our efforts as COVID continues to rise in Massachusetts. This funding will be used to expand efforts to combat the spread of COVID, including contracting with a nurse staffing agency to add more capacity in our schools, funding COVID-19 specific project managers, and expanding contact tracing.
In addition to the BPS Staff who have been working with School Leaders and families on our COVID-19 response, we have added two additional team members to the rapid response management team:
Dr. Sari Sanchez MD, MPH: Sari is an infectious disease physician and is the Director of the Infectious Diseases Bureau at BPHC.
Omar Boukili: Omar is transitioning to BPS from Boston City Hall, where he served as Sr. Advisor to the Mayor on COVID-19 and Strategic Initiatives. Prior to that, he led the City of Somerville’s COVID-19 Emergency Response as Incident Commander.
BPS meets daily with the Boston Public Health Commission, twice per week with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and weekly with all school nurses to review cases and discuss solutions. In partnership with BPHC, the district is in constant communication with Mayor Wu’s Office.
We are improving COVID-19 testing and contact tracing with our partners at the state - and on our own - including putting more decision-making in the hands of our dedicated School Leaders.
We have accelerated the rate of communications from schools to you when there is a confirmed positive case in a school. We are no longer waiting for contact tracing to be completed for notification; instead, we are notifying the school community and letting them know contact tracing is beginning.
We have reinstated twice a week disinfecting in schools through misting/fogging at night.
We have finished installing indoor air-quality sensors and are preparing to release data reports on a consistent basis. These reports will be posted on the BPS website, and a link will be shared with families.
Finally, we are supporting schools in implementing new BPHC recommendations, including:
Following physical distancing guidelines
Limiting visitors to schools
Avoiding field trips, large indoor gatherings events, and spectators at sporting events
Recommending (where possible) cohorting students.
Taken together, we believe these additional measures will enhance our ability to keep students and staff safe, to respond more rapidly to a positive case of COVID-19 in a school, and to better communicate updates with you.
We are in this together. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure the health, wellness, and safety of our entire BPS community. Thank you in advance for your partnership.
In appreciation, Dr. Brenda Cassellius Superintendent