I hope this message finds you and your families in good health. This afternoon, Governor Baker announced that schools in Massachusetts will remain closed until May 4th. Following this announcement, Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Jeffrey Riley issued a statement that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will be providing guidance for school districts around common expectations for home learning during this extended closure. We expect this guidance will be issued over the next week, and this direction will help inform our plans moving forward.
What is next for home learning?
Through next week, the current systems will remain in place. To move forward in a meaningful way, we are assessing all of the work that has been done between teachers and students to evaluate what is working well and where we need to add supports. We are looking at best practices at all levels and will work to share and emulate what is being done successfully. We are increasing our on-line capacity and creating platforms that will streamline the process for information sharing between our schools, families, and students.
This next phase of home learning for all of our students will build upon the work that is already being done. The direction we receive from the DESE over the next week is very important for our planning, and it will inform our strategies around instructional expectations for introducing new concepts, assessment of student work, special education services, standardized testing, time on learning, and equity issues for students of all abilities and the capacity of all families to support home learning. Please understand that this situation is changing by the day, and our plans are being adjusted with each new development.
We have received a great deal of feedback over the past two weeks about home learning, and you have been very supportive of our teachers and their efforts. In some ways, it has been comparable to the story of Goldilocks. For some families, the current learning environment isn’t challenging enough. For others, it is completely overwhelming. And for others, it is just right. As we move ahead, we will do our very best to provide opportunities and options to meet the needs and motivations of each child. During this time of crisis, we all need to remember that many families, and our staff, are juggling incredibly difficult situations personally and professionally. As this virus spreads, it will become harder for many of us. Patience, grace, and understanding are needed more than ever in the weeks ahead.
It is my sincere hope that we can come back together as a school community in May. Nothing can replace the learning that happens between teachers and their students in real life and in real time. In the meantime, we will do our very best to be innovative, creative, and to use the resources available to keep our students engaged and moving forward. We will share more information in the days ahead using our regular communication platforms.
OK – I realize there are a lot of words in this message that could be summed up in a sentence: We haven’t answered all of your questions yet, we are asking for your patience, we will keep you informed, and we will do our very best.
Thanks for taking the time to read this far down the page. Your feedback and ideas are always welcome, and we are putting together a FAQ document that will be shared with this audience. I encourage you to contact your child’s principal or myself for support of any kind.
Superintendent of Schools