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Boston Pauses School Reopening Plan Amid Rise In Coronavirus Cases

BOSTON (CBS) – Boston will pause its school reopening plan after a recent rise in coronavirus cases, Mayor Marty Walsh announced on Wednesday.

Wednesday is a fully remote day for students in the city. Schools will be open on Thursday only for students with highest needs who opted into hybrid learning.

Walsh said the earliest students can now return to the hybrid format would be October 22.

The decision was made after Boston's 7-day positive test rate pushed over 4%, which is the threshold established by the city for its hybrid learning plan.

City officials said it is critical to find a way for the highest needs students to learn in person.

"With the protocols we have in place, public health guidance says we can provide the vital in-person learning and services for all the highest needs students who have opted in," said Walsh. "We are committed to meeting their needs together. We will continue to make hybrid, in-person learning an option for them, as long as the public health guidance supports it."

Walsh was asked if there is a point the city could reach where schools would be forced to return to all remote learning.

"It's a great question and I can't answer it. It's unpredictable," said Walsh.

Chief of Health and Human Services Marty Martinez said most neighborhoods are seeing an uptick. Martinez added that people under 29 are the largest uptick, along with an uptick in the Latino community.

The Boston Teachers Union said it supported the mayor's move to postpone the "broadening of in-person learning" but it's still concerned about safety.

"Absent making immediate adjustments to reduce the number of non-essential staff entering school buildings, we are deeply concerned at this hour that the status quo and current approach may needlessly put thousands of staff and students in harm's way, as we have seen multiple confirmed positive cases in the last four days," the union said in a statement.

"Air quality tests must be released and independent facility inspections should be conducted right away before buildings are declared safe."

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