Students and teachers are having to assemble in their classrooms because Boston Public Schools are mandated to keep windows 4 inches open to reduce the risk of COVID transmission.
One school wrote to parents “good morning families” before their children went to class. “It is still very cold. Remember that the windows in our classrooms must be open. I suggest layering your child’s clothes (two pairs of pants, a T-shirt and a jacket, two pairs of socks, etc.) (plus all their outerwear (hat, mittens) , scarf, etc.).”
This advice angered some parents.
“These are the notices I receive from Boston Public School… in the 21st century,” one parent tweeted. “I hate this so much. How is a 4 year old so focused on learning to try to keep warm?!? An adult with a cold that these kids get so often.”
At a school committee meeting Wednesday night, Samantha Laney, a teacher at Holmes Primary School in Dorchester, said she and her students should keep their coats in class because windows should be open to circulate air.
She also said schools need COVID tests “immediately” and need more social workers, not just for students, but for teachers who are “totally burned”.
Mary Dibenga, a teacher at the Boston Latin Academy, told the school committee that she started her day on a bus packed with students, without any social distancing, because many school bus drivers don’t come to work.
She made it to her “55th class,” where she has two students with sickle cell anemia, one of the diseases that puts people at greater risk not only of contracting COVID but also of dying.
A strike was planned for 10:30 a.m. Friday to demand better working conditions during the pandemic.
“This is the protocol for every school to mitigate COVID risks,” a Boston Public Schools spokeswoman said Wednesday of the Open Window mandate. “Temperatures in school buildings have been adjusted to 76 degrees to help combat required window ventilation, and teachers/staff are urged to contact their school leader if they are experiencing heat or cold issues.”
On Wednesday night, the school committee approved nearly $400 million in federal grants for COVID relief, but some parents and students urged the committee to challenge the state’s insistence on 180 days of in-person learning, with many going so far as to say schools should close completely until they are Return is safe.
Principal Brenda Kasilius emphasizes that the classroom is the best environment for students to learn and get the resources they need. But she also agrees that the omicron boom is a special circumstance and believes that the PSE can promote goodwill with school leaders by relaxing the 180-day personal learning requirement.