DESE Commissioner Riley Releases New Guidances to Local Schools

Since Governor Baker announced that all Massachusetts schools will remain closed through this academic year, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Commissioner Jeffrey Riley recently released new guidances to school districts, underscoring that student learning will continue, while keeping health and safety as a top priority,

Riley said the DESE understands that this is a challenging time for all of us as we balance work, home life, caring for loved ones, and the education of our children while also working to remain safe during this health crisis.

As part of the new policies, districts will decide whether students will be held back or not in their grade. If districts allow students to continue to advance to the next grade, districts like Revere have to create opportunities for summer learning and additional support in the fall.

“We are doing some things similar to other districts like grading using a “Met Competence” of “has not yet met competency” approach,” said Revere Public School Superintendent Dr. Dianne Kelly. “Middle and High School students have to successfully complete 60 percent of the remote learning work to meet competency.”

Students with disabilities will receive services that can reasonably be provided in a remote learning environment by their assigned team of educators in relation to the goals

identified in the student’s IEP and ELS students will receive ESL instruction based on their English Development Level.

“When we built our Remote Learning Plan (RLP), 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,” said Kelly. “Commissioner Riley has indicated that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will release a second Remote Learning Plan guidance document later this week. Once we receive that document, we’ll revisit our RLP and make any necessary adjustments.”

Kelly said now that students won’t be back to school this year RPS will look to provide more detail to the RLP and focus more on how to assist seniors as they transition beyond high school to college, the military, 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,” she said. “We are still hoping to have some programming over the summer to help students get back on track but even that remains unsure at this time.

While we want you to know what our next steps are and how we are working to support students, we also want to emphasize the need to focus on your own wellbeing and that of your children. Doing the best you can is all we ask.”

Kelly said she and RPS realize remote learning will look different across homes based on family needs and that is perfectly fine.

“Together, we’ll figure it out. If you have questions or concerns we encourage you to contact your child’s school,” said Kelly. “Email is being checked by all staff members regularly. This, and other electronic forms of communication (like Dojo at the elementary level), are the best ways to communicate with staff.”

Kelly said staff working from home can still answer phones and direct calls as needed; but may not be able to do so in real time. If you reach the school’s answering machine, Kelly urges parents and students to please leave a message to ensure we can respond to your questions or concerns as quickly as possible.

“It is more important now than ever that schools and families work together to help kids with anything they need,” she said. “If your family is in need of assistance or has any other needs (example: additional food, support, medicine), please call Revere 311 which is available Monday thru Friday from 7:30 am-6:00 pm, or the Massachusetts 211 hotline, which is available 24 hours a day and in multiple languages.”

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