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 Revere and Massachusetts will remain closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic for the remainder of the current school year.
Revere Public School Superintendent Dr. Dianne Kelly said she thinks the Governor made the right call.
“We think the Governor made the right decision in light of the current status of COVID 19, everyone’s efforts to prevent more spreading, and the need to ensure the safety of our staff and students,” said Kelly. “When we built our Remote Learning Plan, we intentionally focused on the “what if we can’t reopen” scenario knowing we’d be able to peel back from that if we did re-open.”
Kelly said Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Commissioner Jeffrey Riley has indicated that the DESE will release a second “Remote Learning Plan” guidance document soon.
“Once we receive that document, we’ll revisit our Remote Learning Plan (RLP) and make any necessary adjustments,” said Kelly. “Now that we know we won’t be back, we’ll look to provide more detail to the RLP and focus more on how we assist our seniors as they transition to college and the workforce. We’re also focusing on how to leverage the start of next school year to close the learning gaps for kids in grades Pre-K through 11.”
Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo said his office is working closely with Dr. Kelly and her team to communicate next steps for all families and ensure Revere is reaching its students by continuing to support them with as many resources as the City can.
“No one likes the idea of closing schools for the rest of the year but it’s the right decision based on the facts available to us,” said Mayor Arrigo. “We know our residents are facing many challenges right now and that today’s announcement hits families hard – but our students will return to classes when we are confident that we can provide a safe re-entry plan and that our young people will be met with lesson plans that meet their academic needs. My heart goes out to all the high school seniors who will have a very different senior year experience than our typical traditions – perhaps this too will be part of their new education – adapting and thriving when things don’t go as planned. We’re going to do our best to recognize and celebrate their achievements and accomplishments during this unprecedented time.”
Revere School Committee member Carol Tye also agreed with the decision to keep schools in Revere and the state closed.
“In view of the continuing threat of the pandemic virus, I think that Governor Baker’s decision to cancel school is wise,” said Tye. “Painful, but wise”
However, she expressed heartfelt disappointment for Revere seniors.
“Our current seniors are experiencing a huge loss,” said Tye. “We are all so sorry that they have not been able to participate in the “rites of passage” associated with the life transition that is graduation from high school. But we view this as a postponement. We are a family, and we are committed to celebrating their many achievements in as many ways as possible in the future – at a time that is safe for all.”
City Council President Patrick Keefe and his wife, Jennifer, have two children, Adrianna, a junior at Revere High, and Patrick III, an eighth grader.
“I’m sure it was a tough decision for Governor Baker,” said Keefe. “For kids to lose a large part of their school year and extracurricular activities is a letdown. For seniors especially, memories they would have created are now overshadowed with this awful pandemic. It really stinks, but it’s the right decision. The students are incredibly resilient and I truly believe something good will come out of this current situation.”
Baker made the announcement 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 Tuesday. “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.”