The Boston Student Advisory Council, a coalition of elected Boston student leaders who identify and address student concerns, have planned a city-wide school walkout Friday in an effort to momentarily return to remote learning.
“Bringing COVID home is essentially a death sentence,” Boston Latin School senior William Hu wrote in a petition advocating for Gov. Charlie Baker to give Massachusetts schools the option to learn remotely.
Originally published on Jan. 4, the petition has since garnered over 7,000 signatures and hundreds of shares and reposts on social media apps.
According to a statement published on Schoolyard News, the protest isn’t aimed at Boston Public Schools, but the state’s Department of Education and Secondary Education.
DESE officials said that no matter the situation, remote learning no longer counts toward a district’s minimum required structured learning time. This option was only available during the 2020-2021 school year.
BSCA officials posted their 16-point list of demands on their Twitter account.
The student-run organization will host an online webinar at 11:30 a.m. for student participants and supportive parents, teachers and faculty members who wish to speak or give their own personal testimonies.
Gov. Baker has remained uncompromising with his stance on in-person learning. “We’ve said all along we think the best place for kids is in school,” the governor told reporters in the Massachusetts State House on Monday.
Within the list of demands, BSCA requested that the commonwealth grant them two full school weeks of remote learning, stating that the spike in COVID cases warrants a momentary transition to the virtual space. Massachusetts has averaged nearly 20,000 new cases a day.
From Dec. 23 through Jan. 5, DESE said there were 38,887 cases among public school students and 12,213 cases among staff members.
Baker insists that “the primary place where kids get (COVID-19) is outside school, not inside school.” The highest spike in student-faculty COVID cases came after students returned from vacation.
Massachusetts is just one of many states witnessing organized student walkouts. Vice News reported that Chicago, New York and California have seen similar student-run movements, all in favor of virtual learning.
“No one is requesting a complete turn to remote learning, just an option so that kids can stay safe and still maintain their education,” Hu wrote in the petition.