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Curley parents have new worry: Will state let BPS count ten days of Covid-19 remote teaching towards school-year requirements?

Cassellius and Grassa

Cassellius listens as Curley principal Katie Grassa addresses parents.

BPS and Boston public-health officials said tonight Covid-19 exploded so fast at the Curley K-8 School in Jamaica Plain over the last three weeks that they couldn't keep up - and decided this afternoon the best course would be to shut the school for ten days.

But now BPS has to convince the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to grant a waiver from its rule that remote learning doesn't count towards the 180 days of education all public-school students are supposed to get in Massachusetts. In a Zoom meeting tonight, school officials told parents they hope to get word by Wednesday afternoon.

Students were sent home today with Chromebooks - even K1 students - and the school will be open between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. tomorrow for parents of kids who were out today to pick up the tablets - or any medicines their kids might have left at school or who need a school lunch to go. The school will also be open from 2 to 4 p.m. on Friday and Monday for students or parents to pick up packs of ten meals.

During the meeting, School Superintendent Brenda Cassellius and Boston Public Health Commission Medical Director Jennifer Lo said the Curley School has had 46 confirmed Covid-19 cases between Oct. 22 through Nov. 7 - across 21 different classrooms. That's so many cases BPS was having trouble keeping up with contact tracing and testing - the school was up to 500 rapid tests a day - they said, adding the ten days off will help curb the outbreak and let BPS gear up for additional contact tracing and testing.

"It happened so rapidly, it's been challenging for our team to keep up with the capacity that we have," Cassellius said.

Cassellius said she appreciates the difficulties the closing - and the minimum of five days' self-isolation the city recommends - could cause parents. but the closing is "the only way we will really be able to turn the corner." She added, "right now, this was the safest decision we could make for your families and the entire community at the Curley."

That rapid increase in numbers across so many different classrooms is what makes the Curley outbreak different from outbreaks at the Manning and the
Orchard Gardens schools - the numbers at those schools was lower and not spread across the entire school, so the cases could be contained without closing those schools, they said..

Lo urged Curley parents and children to isolate for five days - no birthday parties, no sports practices - then get tested. If the results are negative, they should wait three days and if no symptoms - even a runny nose - then they can resume their normal activities.

Lo said that because of the Curley outbreak, the city is extending hours at the Anna Cole testing site in Jackson Square, starting Friday - 2-7 p.m., except on Sundays, 12-3. She added that once the Curley re-opens, BPHC will be holding a vaccination clinic at the school.

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Comments

Her administration just lurches from crisis to crisis in a wholly reactive posture. Why can’t anyone issue spot at BPS?

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No kidding, and Wu says that she wants to keep her on the job. Yikes

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Shame on DESE for not having a plan in place!

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This outbreak would have been contained. But they haven’t done it. I wish everyone could u sweet and just how mismanaged BPS is. It is heartbreaking because they just fail these kids over and over, yet everyone responsible is making six figures, and is never held accountable, save for the occasional golden parachute.

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I got notifications about both kids being close contacts with confirmed cases, one on Friday and one on Monday. They've been swabbed daily, and the eldest got the full contact-tracing treatment. (For K1 kids, they assume that everyone touched everyone and everything in the class)

When you have 46 cases across dozens of classrooms, and you have one person whose part-time job it is to handle contact tracing, it's pretty much impossible to keep up with something like this. They shunted most of the excess work onto the school nurses, who are goddamn heroes for what they've been putting up with this year.

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Consent to testing and MANY are not!

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The Curly has consent forms for 80% of students.

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Good for them, i've seen so much push back to sign off on it. Do you happen to know what day they test? Once a week is not enough for unvaccinated kids, the logistics of operating testing at a K-8 are difficult.

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As mentioned in the last thread, I have two kids at the Curley, the youngest in K1. Because DESE refused to allow schools to make contingency plans for the totally unforeseeable consequences of cramming 30 4-year-olds into a room and trusting their mask discipline, everyone from the teachers to the superintendant are scrambling like mad to throw together a last-second curriculum rewrite for remote learning. They sent kids home with Chromebooks, yes, but no one has used those Chromebooks in months, so when they don't power up or the login doesn't work, the given answer is "call the IT helpline and they'll sort it out." God help those poor bastards at the IT desk tomorrow at 7AM. Meanwhile, we all get to sweat it out about totally inane details like "will school have to run into July to hit the state-mandated 180 days?" while we all scramble to figure out how we're going to get our boss to understand that we have to switch back to supporting our kids in remote learning, which DESE swore up and down could never possibly happen.

This is what happens when you vote for Republicans at any level of government, people. Stop pretending like Charlie Baker is some sort of reasonable person, because he's just as incompetent and malevolent as the rest of the chucklefucks in the national party.

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That’s all fine and good but for BPS to have no plan for this and no capacity to test and trace is pretty damning on the system, even if the governor does suck.

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This year we have to use the State’s program. And they were getting less than half the kids promised, so testing is now every other week.

At the start, in one elementary, parents reported their kids came into the hall, lined up 6 feet apart, took off their mask, BLEW THEIR NOSE, swabbed themselves. Yes. After having all the kids mask all day, let’s have the governor’s testing bring them into a confined space so they can all blow their noses at the same time. Nothing could possibly go wrong here!

I’m really sorry you’re going through this, but I wanted to point out that even when schools are willing and able to implement/fund a better program, THEY ARE REQUIRED TO COMPLY WITH STATE REQUIREMENTS.

… and one of those requirements was “you can’t plan for this foreseeable event.” That’s on Gov. Baker and his Dept of Education.

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Thanks for reporting on this Adam.
You mistakenly wrote "Conley" instead of "Curley" in the second to last paragraph.

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Thanks!

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Why did this outbreak spread across so many classrooms? Did this school have activities that brought multiple classes together? Is there a ventilation system that shares air between classrooms?

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Cafeteria, buses, outside social and athletic activities, siblings from the same household, cousins who attend the same school and hang out on weekends, etc.

There are many ways that school children comingle outside of the classroom.

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Maybe if the state actually made convention goes wear masks at the State Dept of Ed conference the other day. It seems that nobody wore masks there and it just trickles down the education world.

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Baker and "the state" have declined to enforce mask mandates this time around. The mandate was lifted in May. So how exactly is "the state" going to make "convention goes wear masks"?

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Maybe they should do what they are making their students do. It is just too much to expect that they would do that.

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Maybe they should do what they are making their students do. It is just too much to expect that they would do that.

Can you elaborate? It's unclear who you mean by "they" and "their" and "what" and "that". Can you try again using nouns?

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The conference was all the administration of the schools. They are not doing what their students are doing ie social distancing etc

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The conference was all the administration of the schools. They are not doing what their students are doing ie social distancing etc

Okay? If you say so? They are two different things, but if you say the degree of exposure is the same between a group of adults at a conference and a large number of kids in school, then okay, I guess. I tend to think that different situations don't automatically call for the same measures, but I wasn't at this conference and you apparently were, so...

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Perhaps 80% or more of attendees are fully vaccinated. If they were a school district for the conference, then they could apply to have their mask mandate lifted. But they aren’t a school district so those rules don’t even apply.

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