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Here’s how the Orange Line shutdown will affect schools and colleges

“We have to look at it from not only the student and the family, but also the staff so that our classrooms are staffed properly.” 

Old and new Orange Line trains sit at Wellington Station after an announcement that the city will shutter the line for 30 days to provide much needed improvements. Erin Clark / The Boston Globe

The MBTA’s announcement that it will shut down the Orange Line for 30 days coincides with the first day of school for Boston Public Schools on Sept. 1, forcing many students to shift the way they get to school.

The Orange Line will be shut down from the night of Aug. 19 through the night of Sept. 18, reopening at 5 a.m. on Sept. 19.

Boston Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper commented on the situation during a press conference after the announcement. 

“We will be in continued dialogue with the MBTA with [the] full support of our mayor and our city to make sure that we are communicating with our parents when we have changes,” she said.

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This is Skipper’s first school year as superintendent of Boston Public Schools, having previously served as superintendent in Somerville.

She pointed toward shuttle buses as “important for us to work out between the MBTA and our central transportation department,” and said there would be more information forthcoming. 

The announcement came after Boston Mayor Michelle Wu advocated for lengthy shutdowns to work on the MBTA on WBUR’s “Radio Boston” and on GBH’s “Boston Public Radio.”

When Wu advocated for long-term shutdowns, she promised that the city of Boston would be involved in getting fast, reliable bus services set up, saying “I think the public will understand if we can get it done right.”

Skipper noted that this issue not only affects students, but staff too.

“Our staff come from everywhere, and in some areas of the city where schools are, parking can be difficult,” she said. “We have to look at it from not only the student and the family, but also the staff so that our classrooms are staffed properly.” 

Boston Public Schools are not the only concern, with two community colleges and Tufts Medical School also served by the Orange Line. 

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“Tufts University is reviewing the information the MBTA just released and working to identify how this will impact members of the Tufts community,” said Lisa LaPoint, a spokeswoman for the medical school. 

Thousands of students attend Roxbury Community College and Bunker Hill Community College, both of which sit on the Orange Line, and as commuter students, many require the services of the MBTA to get to school.

Bunker Hill Community College President Pam Eddinger said she worries about the timeline of the shutdown. She told MassLive she’s not sure if the repair work will actually take 30 days. The MBTA just announced the closure of a stretch of Green Line service because their work on the Medford branch of the Green Line extension is taking longer than expected.

But Eddinger remained optimistic, agreeing with Wu about the productivity of a long-term shutdown rather than fixing things in small spurts.

“The fact that it’s going to be shut down and all the work is going to be done at once is really in a way the longer term solution, is the better solution,” she told MassLive. “The issue of dealing with the alternative transportation is one point in time. And we still have a little time to plan. So as long as there are [ultimately] buses that are available, I think we’re going to be OK.”

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