DESE is the Massachusetts department of Elementary and Secondary Education. It oversees every local district in Massachusetts and is led by the Commissioner of Education.
An Initial Fall reopening guidance that was released on June 25, 2020 can be found here. This document outlines the requirements and considerations for reopening in the fall with the goal of safely returning as many students as possible to in-person school settings to maximize learning and address students’ holistic needs.
This document required school districts to prepare a plan that included an in-person learning with safety requirements, a hybrid model and a plan for full-time remote learning
Reduce mixing groups (cohorts) as much as possible
Utilize alternative school spaces, community space and outdoor space
Health and Safety Requirements: students grade 2 and above and adults must wear masks, distancing should be a minimum of 3 ft when combined with other safety measures.
A Remote Learning Guide was released on July 24, 2020 and can be found here. It outlines additional/updated DESE recommendations for reopening schools in the fall.
Regardless of the pandemic’s status this fall, planning for remote learning is necessary to be prepared for changing circumstances.
Particular attention needs to be paid to make sure that remote learning is equitable
Districts will be required to meet a minimum school year of 180 days an 900 hours (Elementary), 990 hours (Secondary) of structured learning time. This is regardless of students attending school in person or remotely.
These requirements have been modified as of 7/27 in this document. The new requirements are 170 days and 850 hours (Elementary) and 935 days (Secondary). This is to provide 10 days for school districts to prepare to reopen.
Districts should prioritize students for in person learning in the following way:
1. Students with disabilities and English learners
2. Students without reliable internet or a suitable learning space at home
3. Students who are significantly behind academically
4. Students who struggled during the spring remote period
5. Early learners (PK-5)
If a district is able to provide in-person programming and a student is physically able to attend, at this time, DESE recommends starting with in-person learning. However, DESE provides guidance that all parents/caregivers must have the opportunity- regardless of whether or not their child is medically compromised- to choose a district’s remote learning program. This includes parents who want to opt into remote learning, as they see it as the best option for their child/family.
If a student begins in a fully remote option and wants to switch to in-person learning, there may be a transition period of ideally no more than three or four weeks for a student to switch.
School districts must take attendance whether the student is in person or remote and parents/caregivers are responsible for ensuring their child(ren) attend daily.
Remote Learning programs are required to include regular, two-way communication between students, educators and families.
Meaningful opportunities to connect regularly with staff
Regular opportunities to access live, synchronous instruction and student-to-student interaction
Schools must be prepared during the 2020-2021 school year to provide remote services in the event of school closure that includes:
Regular and consistent schedule
Structured learning time
Frequent interactions with teachers and staff to ensure participation