Governor Charlie Baker announced Tuesday that schools in Massachusetts will remain closed for remainder of the academic year, and non-emergency daycare providers will stay shuttered until June 29 amid the continued COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are five key takeaways from the announcement.
1] Daycare - Emergency child care will remain available for families of essential workers including public safety personnel and healthcare and grocery employees. Currently there are 523 programs serving such families statewide, Baker’s office said, and weekly attendance averages about 2,500 children. The state will continue to pay subsidies to childcare providers based on pre-pandemic enrollment in order to support their employees, according to Baker’s office.
In a statement, Baker’s office said the state has also partnered with the website Care.com “to assist currently unemployed child care workers and provide skilled in-home care. Care.com is offering both eligible families and child care workers free 90-day premium memberships.” The initiative is designed to support families of essential workers and families of children who have special needs, the release said.
2] Remote Learning - Baker stressed Tuesday that the closure announcement doesn’t mean "it’s time to start summer vacation early.” In fact, his office said, the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will issue updated guidelines for schools to support remote learning for the rest of the year, including expanded STEM learning.
The acronym STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The department will also prepare guidelines for expanding summer learning opportunities for students, Baker’s office said, In addition, the state will solicit input from education vendors regarding the possibility of creating a statewide online education platform that local districts can join and customize, according to the statement.
3] What if families don’t have wifi? - Baker’s office said the state is conducting a survey of school districts to identify barriers to remote learning, including “inequitable” access to technology. An advisory group of administrators, educators, parents, students and business leaders will work with outside partners to “mobilize resources for schools, including philanthropic gifts and in-kind contributions,” the statement said.
4] Grading for the remainder of this school year - Jeffrey C. Riley, commissioner of the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, told reporters that the initial guidance to school districts was to adopt a “credit” or “no credit” system of grading this spring, but grading decisions are ultimately being left to individual districts.
5] What if my child is enrolled in a residential school for students with special needs? - Those schools will continue operating, as the closure order does not apply to “residential special education schools,” the statement said.