The past month has been a major adjustment, to say the least, for parents, teachers, and kids, all of whom have had to adapt to the closures of Massachusetts schools while we ride out the pandemic.
Unfortunately for all of them, we aren’t through with this just yet, and so as many likely anticipated, schools will not be reopening this school year, Gov. Charlie Baker has just announced.
Baker initially ordered schools closed March 15 through April 27, then extended that order through May 4. The announcement comes a day after Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said during a new briefing that schools would certainly not be reopening in early May, and cast doubt on whether students would be able to return to classrooms before the fall. The order does not apply to residential special education facilities.
“This is a big decision,” he says, adding, “It’s the right thing to do considering the facts on the ground associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and at this point in time there is no authoritative guidance with respect to how to operate schools safely. We believe students therefore cannot safely return to school and avoid the risk of transmitting the virus to others.”
Baker also signed a bill relieving high schoolers of a requirement to complete MCAS to graduate, and the standardized test has been canceled for the year.
Both city and state officials have said that even when schools do resume classes, they will likely have to do so with social distancing measures in place. It’s unclear what that might entail by the start of the next school year.
The once unthinkable reality has probably already set in: No prom. No graduation or sports championships. No much-needed face-time with teachers and friends, not to mention access to a solid meal each day in a school cafeteria. Students have been adjusting to classes taught via online lesson plans and video chats.
At his news briefing, Baker commiserated especially with high school seniors, who’ve seen their plans for last-year milestones evaporate. “As the father of three grown children it stings for me, too, because I remember how precious this time is,” he says. “So to all the seniors, we would just say you should keep your heads up. The end of the year may not proceed as planned, but there will be—because there always are—brighter days ahead. We will get through this pandemic together, and thanks to the creativity and spirit of your parents, coaches, school administrators, and teachers, we will do all we can to do what’s best for kids across Massachusetts.”
Today we extended the closure of K-12 schools and non-emergency childcare programs through the end of the school year.
— Charlie Baker (@MassGovernor) April 21, 2020
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