Twenty-four hours after the Mass Teachers Association (MTA) called for public school buildings to remain closed for the rest of the year, Gov. Charlie Baker announced that all public and private schools in Massachusetts remain closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Baker made the announcement on Tuesday at his daily briefing and said all schools in the state will continue remote learning for the rest of the school year to help prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
“It’s the right thing to do considering the facts on the ground associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Baker. “We believe students cannot safely return to school and avoid the risk of transmitting this virus to others. We’re making this decision to allow school districts to plan through the end of the year and offer remote learning through the end of the school year. School administrators, principals, and teachers have worked hard to create curriculums and materials and to help their students keep learning at home under these difficult circumstances.”
Baker added that the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will be prepared for ‘summer learning’ to prevent at-risk students from falling behind grade level. He said the plan will give students a “strong start for all students in the fall”.
On Monday the MTA released a statement calling for schools to remain closed.
“Out of concern for our students, families, educators and communities, MTA members are demanding that Governor Charlie Baker immediately announce that our school buildings will remain closed and that remote learning will continue in Massachusetts for the remainder of this school year,” said the MTA statement. “That step is essential for the health and well-being of our students and all public education staff.”
The MTA said while educators and other school staff miss their students and their colleagues and the structure of the school day, keeping our students, staff and communities safe must be the highest priority right now.
“Massachusetts has among the highest COVID-19 infection rates in the nation,” continued the statement. “We are in the middle of a surge of cases. Our entire state is an area of great concern to epidemiologists and policymakers at the state and federal levels.”
On Friday, the Boston Public Schools (BPS) and the Boston Teachers Union (BTU) reached a final interim memorandum of understanding regarding a framework for remote learning.
“During this difficult and critical time, BPS and BTU are committed to minimizing our students’ learning gaps to the greatest extent possible,” said BPS and BTU in a joint statement. “BPS, BTU, and other community volunteers have distributed over 30,000 Chromebooks to date and will continue to do so in order to ensure that all of our students have the technology they need to participate productively in online learning.”
BTU members have joined together with its Central Office partners to build out outline classroom activities, reached out and encouraged students to join their classmates in remote learning, and continued to provide critical professional and personal support to their colleagues and to the families they serve.
“Working remotely during this crisis is immensely challenging for all, and while we meet the needs of our own families, we jointly acknowledge that all BPS and BTU staff are dedicated public servants who care for the children of our community and we are committed to balancing these urgent priorities. BPS and BTU agree to give each other flexibility, empathy, and support as a means of getting through this crisis — together,” said BPS and BTU.