BOSTON (CBS) — Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is not ready to close the city’s schools for the rest of the year. Talking to reporters on Friday, Walsh said the decision to keep schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic is something that should be made as a state.
“We’re talking to the governor and I think that that decision really needs to be made collectively,” he said. “I think it has to be uniform across the state. I think it makes more sense. I know I had a conversation with the governor a couple nights ago, and we’re going to follow up today talk more about it. But I would expect that decision coming in the next few days.”
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker had not made a decision as of Friday but said one would come soon.
Baker said while he knows the decision is difficult, he thinks “the vast majority of school systems and school district leaders would like to see the kids back at some point before the end of the year, for two reasons: number one, to be able to do some competency testing and figure out what the gaps may be that a lot of kids are going to have because they haven’t gone to school, for the most part, for the past month… so that there’s some idea about things people could work on over the course of the summer so they’re not completely behind when they show up again in the fall. The second thing is to just have a chance to settle people in and talk a little bit about the next year.”
Walsh also said he has been discussing what summer school would look like in Boston. “I still think that in some cases it’s a little too early to tell,” he said.
“We’ll have more concrete answers probably in the next month or so.”
As of Thursday, there were 32,181 cases of the coronavirus in Massachusetts. In Boston, there were 4,763 cases and 122 deaths.
Walsh said the city is at a critical point and the surge is expected at the end of the month. “Every single person needs to continue to practice social physical distancing,” he said.
The city is continually working on a number of initiatives to get information about the pandemic to residents, including calling 80,000 seniors twice a week and sending out literature in multiple languages.
“This weekend we’re launching new tactics to get the message out in the places we know are the hardest hit. We’re sending out seven sound trucks. The seven city trucks with mounted speakers will be driving through the neighborhoods where the cases are the highest. You’ll hear them in Hyde Park and Mattapan, Dorchester, East Boston, and Roxbury. They’ll be broadcasting a message in seven different languages depending on the community, ” Walsh said.
The mayor also said they were working to the resources at the Boston Public Library branches more accessible.
“We have a wealth of material available online right now at bpl.org. But not everyone is able to get set up with Wi-Fi and online resources,” Walsh said. “We launched a program called Books for Boston to meet the needs. The Boston Public Library is safely delivering new children and adult books to a variety of nonprofit organizations that serve people in our city who are at a higher risk during this pandemic. We’ve already delivered over 1,400 books with a goal of 5,000 in all…You’re doing the right thing, staying home or in a tough situation, you need and deserve access to books, art, and even more.”
Giving an update on Boston’s coronavirus field hospital, Walsh said as of Thursday, Boston Hope Medical Center was treating 133 patients, including 55 homeless individuals and 78 sub-acute hospital patients. Thirty-nine people have been treated and discharged.
“It’s a facility that is serving its purpose well and still has the capacity to spare. We continue to staff it up so we can fully meet the needs if we need them,” he said.
“We are in a public health emergency. We need you to do your part. Stay at home. Watch your hands with soap and water. Cover your face outside the house. Practice spacing and avoid all crowded situations.”