As you know, Governor Baker recently directed schools in MA to close until April 7, 2020 in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. After closing on our own on Friday, March 13th, we began the Governor’s shutdown this Monday, March 16, 2020.
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) requires all school systems to schedule at least 180 student days per year and to carry five (5) snow days, for a total calendar of 185 days. DESE notified school systems last week that they are not requiring attendance beyond each district’s scheduled 185th day. As of Monday, March 16th, we had three (3) remaining snow days left in our calendar; with school being closed Monday-Wednesday this week, we have now exhausted our five (5) snow days for the year. Our last day of school is now locked in for Thursday, June 25th, regardless of how many more days we are out due to our COVID-19 shutdown.
DESE is NOT approving distance learning for time on learning. In other words, work provided to students during the shutdown cannot be used for student grades, GPAs, and report cards. As provided in our previous communication to families, the Massachusetts Commissioner of Education has been very clear that this time of closure is not expected to be time of “new learning” but rather time to keep “learning alive” through review of previously taught concepts, skills, and content. Understandably, many families are not aware of this directive and are rightfully confused given that some school systems have assigned formal instructional lessons that include work submission and grading. The BPS will be complying with the Commissioner’s directive, and we will be providing parents with resources to keep their students intellectually engaged during the three-week scheduled closure.
As a result, BPS will only be providing resources for parents that can be used by families voluntarily. There is one district-wide source for all student learning resources which can be found at: https://www.braintreeschools.org/covid19. Any work voluntarily shared by individual teachers with students will be optional. Consistent with the information above, any such work will not be graded and will not factor into any reported grade. This resource page will continue to be sourced and supplemented over the coming days and weeks to provide additional options for families to utilize. For those BHS students taking Advanced Placement courses, a separate communication will be forthcoming identifying resources to be made available for test preparation.
Students are not required to complete work from this website, or assignments or projects that were assigned by the school but due after March 12, 2020. With that said, we recommend and highly encourage students/families to use the resources provided to continue learning and to keep young minds active. No work done by students after March 12 until schools reopen will be used in grading or assessing academic performance.
As the marking period for elementary ended before the closing of schools, we have received several questions about report cards. As the overall situation remains fluid, we will inform parents of deadlines for the distribution of these report cards upon the reopening of schools.
At the secondary level, the current terms will not end as previously scheduled. Once clarity on the reopening of schools is available, we will consider adjustments to the end of the current terms and/or how the start of the next term will be organized. Within these considerations will be a conversation of how marking periods throughout the year are weighted in determining final grades.
Finally, it is important to remember that this is impacting everyone around the world. Your children are not behind, as all school systems are facing the same issue. For those of you who have reached out to me concerned that you will not be able to manage providing your children with the academic support they need due to work and other family obligations, please know that we have great teachers who will catch them up no matter how long this lasts. I would offer that there are no more important lessons for our children than empathy and resilience: if they have those two qualities, they will always persevere. Without them, no level of academic preparation will matter.
We will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.