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Boston schools reopen remotely today with many bugs to work through

Open windows and a fan are being used as the ventilation system at the Mather Elementary School in Dorchester. The letters A and B on desks will help students alternate daily use once they return to the classroom. All students will begin the academic year remotely on Monday.
Open windows and a fan are being used as the ventilation system at the Mather Elementary School in Dorchester. The letters A and B on desks will help students alternate daily use once they return to the classroom. All students will begin the academic year remotely on Monday.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Boston is preparing for a bumpy start to the academic year Monday as students log on to begin classes remotely for the first day of school.

All Boston Public Schools will begin the year remotely, followed by a two-month plan to phase in a hybrid return to classrooms, beginning Oct. 1. Boston Superintendent Brenda Cassellius warned during a School Committee meeting Wednesday that the start of the school year could be challenging.

“We do anticipate that this could be a little bumpier start than we typically have, but we have been trying to mitigate every single bump as best as we can, knowing that we join all other urban districts across this nation. . . in doing something that we have never done before,” she told the School Committee.

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One challenge: School officials last week were still waiting for 20,000 Chromebooks for students across the city, potentially hindering online access for countless families. Thousands of Chromebooks have already arrived and are being delivered.

The advocacy group Lawyers for Civil Rights warned last week that hundreds of Boston students who have been requesting laptops since last spring have still not received them, particularly those with disabilities and those attending schools with predominantly Black and Latino students.

Across the state, most school districts have already started the academic year, either remotely (like Boston) or with a hybrid approach that includes both in-person and remote instruction.

The district says it is prioritizing its highest-needs students for in-person learning. Those include many students who have more complex or significant disabilities; homeless students; those in foster care; and some students classified as English learners.

These students will start in-person instruction two days a week on Oct. 1. They may have the option to return to school starting Oct. 13 for four days a week based on “choice and availability,” the district said.

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On Monday, the Globe’s education team will be following at least seven people through the course of their day:

  • Earnest Bass, a custodian at McCormack Middle School in Dorchester;
  • Derrick Ciesla, the principal of the Russell Elementary School in Dorchester;
  • Lee Heaton, a bus driver for Boston Public Schools;
  • Linda Garmon, a media arts instructor at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, who will be teaching remotely;
  • Ariana Crowson, 4, who will be starting pre-K at Harvard-Kent Elementary School in Charlestown;
  • Tykreke and Tyrelle Satchebell, 11-year-old twins, who will be attending school from the Roxbury YMCA;
  • Christopher Taylor, 12, a 7th-grader at the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science who will take classes remotely.

Their stories will give readers a chance to witness a range of back-to-school experiences, including the hopes, successes, and most frustrating challenges.

Check BostonGlobe.com throughout the day Monday to read our live blog featuring dispatches from these educators, schoolchildren, and support staff.

James Vaznis and Naomi Martin of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.



Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.