Today marks the reopening of the Boston Public Schools. The first day of school is usually an exciting rite of passage for young people, but this back to school is like no other, with all BPS students starting off remotely, with limited access to teachers and friends.
Every young person going back to school today has been impacted by COVID-19, especially the children we serve, who live in some of Boston’s most hard-hit communities. And if/when they return to school buildings as planned, they will face social distancing requirements and the risk of outbreaks and emergency quarantines.
This is a year of uncertainty — which is the very opposite of what kids need to thrive. Boston Public Schools reported that 1 in 5 students abandoned online learning last spring. When we asked our school partners what we can do to help them re-engage students this school year, they all said the same thing: provide consistent and structured social-emotional support.
So, this fall and winter, we’re running weekly remote Crew Classes for hundreds of middle school students.
What is a Crew?
A Crew is an intact team of 12 students led by two caring Outward Bound instructors. Crews meet for 45 minutes over Zoom each week and are a fully integrated part of school curriculum and culture.
Together, students and instructors will build trusting relationships, process challenges, and learn valuable leadership and communication skills — just like on any other Outward Bound course.
And we have more in store, including the launch of our online science portal, which brings signature Thompson Island lessons like Micro Wildernesses, Between the Tides, and Earth Processes to the mainland. In addition, we are introducing virtual mini expeditions, and the extension of our Green Ambassadors summer environmental jobs internship into the school year.
Our work has never been more critical than right now, in this school year, which is why we set an ambitious goal to reach 1,000 students online between now and February, while we pave the way for a return to in person learning on the Island.