State Announces Policies to Support Families, Expand Childcare Options While Their Children Are Remote Learning

The Baker-Polito Administration on Friday announced new policies that will provide families who require childcare while their children are engaged in remote learning additional options by allowing programs to offer supervised care during regular school day hours.

Governor Charlie Baker signed an Executive Order that allows the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) to authorize currently licensed after-school and out-of-school programs to operate during the school day while children are learning remotely.

As schools prepare to reopen, working parents need to find care and learning support for their school-aged children while they are engaged in remote learning. Current state statute prohibits licensed after-school and out-of-school time programs for school-aged children from offering care during school hours. The Executive Order allows EEC to authorize childcare programs, like YMCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs, family childcare homes, and others, to care for school-age children while they participate in remote learning.

The Department will also exempt informal remote learning parent cooperative arrangements organized by families, if the groups are supervised by unpaid parents. These parent cooperatives are still subject to any state orders regulating gatherings in place under the COVID-19 state of emergency.

In addition, the Executive Order creates a temporary license exemption for remote learning enrichment programs to provide supervision and care for school children up to age 14 while they participate in remote learning during the school day. These remote learning programs, which must meet specific criteria, will need to first be approved by their local municipality before they can apply for the license exemption. Programs run by a school district are already exempt from EEC licensure and do not need to apply for this exemption.

The Departments of Early Education and Care and Elementary and Secondary Education will issue joint guidance that details the minimum requirements for remote learning programs, including background record checks, health and safety standards, facilities checks, and child to staff ratios.

Municipalities will ensure programs, that are approved for the license exemption, comply with health and safety requirements.

“We all want our children to get back into school as soon as possible and we applaud the schools and districts that are making the extra effort to bring their students back in some form,” said Education Secretary James Peyser. “At the same time, we know that remote learning will be part of the educational experience for many students this fall, so it’s critical that we enable parents, after-school providers, and community organizations to offer additional childcare options and learning supports when students are unable to attend school in person.”

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