Long-term remote learning could have a “detrimental” impact on Boston’s students, the majority of whom have been learning remotely since March, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Tuesday, but he defended the city’s decision to keep most students home for now as coronavirus cases continue to rise.
“I know that there are parents all across the city ... saying, ‘Reopen schools.’ I support you,” he said. “But right now today, right now today, we are not prepared for that.”
Ideally, Walsh said, he would love to have children in school if it was safe to do so, acknowledging that the time away from the classroom could create a significant learning gap.
“The loss of education by not being in person, we don’t know what the impacts will be right now. We probably won’t know for a year or so,” he said. “I think they’re going to be pretty detrimental in some ways, and I think we have to be creative on, how do we close learning gaps of kids being out of school since March 16 of this year?”
The vast majority of Boston Public Schools students are currently learning remotely with fewer than 200 students — those with the highest needs — learning in person. Walsh said city school leaders are working to reopen schools for more high-needs students, which include those with disabilities, English learners, and students experiencing homelessness.
Walsh doesn’t anticipate that schools will be “reopening fully” before Christmas, but said it is his goal to have some “clarification” soon on the next steps of a phased-in reopening plan after the holiday.
If the city is able to slow the spread of the coronavirus and hit certain benchmarks it has in place, Walsh said, “we will begin the process of reopening schools right after the new year hopefully.”