The list of Boston suburbs closing schools
continues to grow: Cambridge, Brookline, Belmont, Concord, and many more. Boston mayor Marty Walsh said Friday morning that he has no plans to close the city’s public schools, however. (Education Week, by the way, has this immensely helpful interactive map tracking all school and district closures across the nation here
Complicating the decision for officials, particularly those overseeing schools with significant low-income populations, is that there is a strong public health rationale for closing: slowing the transmission of the virus. But there’s also a strong public health rationale for staying open. When schools close, it disproportionately affects the most vulnerable families: children who rely on the schools for breakfast and lunch; teenagers who live in homes without computers or reliable access to the Internet; parents who can’t afford
to stay home from work to watch the kids. Read Globe columnist Jenee Osterheldt’s piece on the equity implications for low-income college students here
A growing number of states, including Maryland, Michigan, and New Mexico, are making the decision for their districts—opting for statewide closures. But Massachusetts’ leadership has left it largely up to local leaders to decide what to do. That’s concerned several mayors
—and school leaders, too.
Tom Scott, the executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, called the “guidance” released by the state on Friday: “Too little, too late.”
As this all plays out in the coming weeks—and likely months—we’ll be following the equity implications for Boston families: Do those at schools that remain open have access to a school nurse? How are low-income parents managing—or not—when a child’s day care center closes? Are elderly relatives who step in to provide child care putting their own health at risk? Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with sources and stories.