During the final presidential debate on Thursday night, NBC moderator Kristen Welker used the example of Boston moving to remote learning to pose a question to President Trump and former vice president Joe Biden on the coronavirus.
“Yesterday, Boston became the latest city to move its public school system entirely online after a coronavirus spike,” Welker said, as she asked the candidates what their message would be to anxious parents and teachers.
It’s true that Boston has closed schools to in-person learning, but the city’s schools have not been entirely open so far this school year. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced this week that Boston Public Schools would move to all-remote learning after it had opened earlier this month only to high-needs students.
“Unfortunately, today was difficult because I would love to see these kids [in school],” Walsh said Wednesday. “They’re thriving in school, and they love to be there, but the health and safety of our residents and our students are the number one priority right now, especially our most vulnerable.”
When the city’s seven-day positivity rate falls below 5 percent for two consecutive weeks, students with high needs will be allowed to opt into in-person learning again, city officials said. When the rate is below 4 percent for two consecutive weeks, BPS plans to resume its phased-in return, starting with its youngest students.
Trump and Biden sparred on the question of how to reopen schools, with Trump urging all schools to reopen as soon as possible, while Biden called for more money for schools to address ventilation upgrades, student-teacher ratios, and other issues.
Felicia Gans of the Globe staff contributed.