By Felicia Gans, Globe Staff
The Globe's Great Divide team investigates the deep inequalities in our public education system, examining both the challenges and possible solutions to creating equal opportunity for all students. Anyone interested can sign up for this free newsletter here.
The latest from The Great Divide team

As schools reopen, students struggle with COVID trauma

When some high school students return to in-person classes at the Margarita Muñiz Academy in Jamaica Plain later this fall, Alejandra De La Cruz won’t be among them.

De La Cruz, a senior, lives with her 83-year-old grandmother and father, both of whom had cancer. Her father also struggles with a heart condition. Her sister, who lives in Chelsea, was hospitalized with the coronavirus in the spring and has since recovered, she said.

"[Learning remotely is] going to be really difficult, but I’m willing to do it because I’m not going to put my grandmother and my dad’s health at risk," said De La Cruz, whose Hyde Park neighborhood was hit hard by the virus.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of returning students across the Boston area bear deep psychological wounds from firsthand experience with the pandemic: They’ve gotten sick themselves, they’ve watched family members suffer and die; or they live in communities with high cases of COVID-19.

-Meghan E. Irons, Globe Staff

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Katy Ochoa, an incoming Chelsea High School senior, recently tested positive for COVID-19. (Erin Clark/Globe Staff)
Boston delays next phase of in-person school as coronavirus positivity rate rises to 4.1 percent

With Boston’s coronavirus positivity rate rising to 4.1 percent, city officials announced Wednesday that they will delay the start of in-person learning for the next phase of students who were slated to return on Oct. 15, but will continue in-person classes for those who already have come back.

Students in the next group — prekindergartners and kindergartners — will now start no sooner than Oct. 22, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said. City officials will reevaluate the data before that date to determine whether it is safe for students to begin in-person instruction then.

-Felicia Gans, Globe Staff

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Boston teachers union sues superintendent, Walsh over right to teach remotely when virus positivity rate is above 4 percent

The Boston Teachers Union sued city and school district leaders Thursday over their decision to continue requiring some educators to report to school buildings, saying the district is violating an agreement that schools would transition to fully remote learning if the city’s coronavirus positivity rate rose above 4 percent.

In its suit against Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Superintendent Brenda Cassellius, and the School Committee, the union asked for an injunction that would make educators' presence in school buildings voluntary, not mandatory.

-Felicia Gans and Naomi Martin, Globe Staff

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Boston’s exam schools may drop entrance test for one year

Students wishing to attend Boston’s coveted exam schools next year would not have to take an admissions test under a new proposal that some say doesn’t go far enough, while others say it would create additional uncertainty for students grappling with enormous change.

A Boston Public Schools task force recommended Thursday that the district suspend the entrance exam for one year and decide eligibility and acceptance using grades, MCAS scores, and ZIP codes.

-Bianca Vázquez Toness, Globe Staff

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School amid the pandemic
We are tracking outbreaks, cases, and other coronavirus-related incidents affecting Massachusetts schools. See our tracker here.
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More about The Great Divide
The Great Divide builds on the findings of the Globe's Valedictorians Project, a Pulitzer Prize finalist that published in January 2019. The project revealed that even the best students in Boston public schools often struggle after high school. The Great Divide team is examining public education in the region, with humanity and empathy, and with a goal of provoking public discussion and exploring what might be done to fix core issues of inequality, social mobility, and economic opportunity. Please send ideas and suggestions to:

Tell us what you want to see in our enhanced education coverage.

The Valedictorians Project
Boston's top students from 2005 to 2007 set out to change the world. But then life happened.

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