As a pediatrician who was educated by Massachusetts public school teachers from kindergarten through high school, I implore Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Superintendent Brenda Cassellius to listen to your teachers and institute remote-only instruction for Boston classrooms this fall (”Boston teachers overwhelmingly prefer remote-only instruction,” Page 1, Aug. 1). There is no doubt that in-person instruction is best for children’s learning and development. However, as coronavirus deaths continue to rise in the United States, and an early reopening of a school in Indiana resulted in the need to quarantine students within hours, it is clear that any return to in-person instruction this fall will be short-lived at best, and devastating to the health of the Boston community at worst. The natural history of COVID-19 infection in children is still poorly understood, and while many (but not all) pediatric patients may recover from the disease with minimal sequelae, the risk that transmission poses to school staff is unacceptable. Rather than Massachusetts schools investing resources in a return to in-person instruction, which is destined to fail, I encourage leaders to work with teachers to develop remote learning opportunities that are accessible for all students, and to support these plans with the funding necessary to do so.
Dr. Emily Berner