Boston educators are asking the federal government to take a close look at supporting students who have dealt with pandemic-related trauma as more kids get back into the classroom after months of remote learning.
“I think our high schoolers are struggling. I think it’s been particularly hard on them, and being isolated and getting them back to normal is hard,” Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius told U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in a Tuesday roundtable.
Cardona joined Boston officials and educators to discuss school reopening successes and challenges as the district prepares to move into five days of full in-person learning for preschool through eighth grade on April 26.
Cardona toured Tynan Elementary School in South Boston, whose principal Leslie Gant said, “I have some kids who are dealing with tremendous levels of trauma and we try to do lots to support them.”
Boston School Committee Chairperson Alex Oliver-Davila noted the pandemic’s toll on communities of color, asking Cardona to consider community partnerships to support students and fill their time out of the classroom, “Schools can’t do it alone.”
Cardona took in the feedback and commended district officials for their reopening efforts, which have been moving along in phases since last month.
“Let us not set the goal to reopen schools the way they were in March 2020. This is our moment. We have to hit the reset button on the things that didn’t work,” Cardona said to the roundtable that also included teachers, nurses and other school staff.
Acting Mayor Kim Janey said she plans to make sure Boston comes out of the pandemic with an equitable approach to create a move vibrant city, “It is not about going back, it is about going better.”
American Rescue Plan funding could leave Boston Public Schools with an estimated $276 million, plus more money that could come from state and local government, which Cassellius said will help to support several goals.
“This funding will present the opportunity to not only use the 20% that’s for recovery but to build back better, stronger and more equitable schools across every neighborhood,” Cassellius said.
The superintendent said funding can be used to deploy central office staff to help with initiatives such as early childhood literacy, to give money directly to schools for administrators, teachers and families to decide upon and to fund the district’s full service community schools, which partner with the YMCA.
“Those are really the three buckets — centrally deployed, school-based and community-based investments to support our students during this recovery,” Cassellius told Cardona.
Docente - Investigadora Educativa.
Doctora en Cs. de la Educación, Magíster en Desarrollo Curricular y Licenciada en Relaciones Industriales.