What Districts Need to Support the Governor’s Encouragement of In-Person Learning


During the past several days, many superintendents have expressed concerns with the Governor’s press conference on Friday, November 6th, when he set expectations that schools in communities designated as grey, green or yellow return student learning fully, in person, if feasible.

Clearly, the words “if feasible” are key to any possible return of in person options.

Based on the guidance provided by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the decision of the Administration to have each school district determine its return to school plan, the better part of Spring, and Summer, were spent by local districts to develop plans, negotiate agreements with local unions, and abide by the health and safety protocols.

While superintendents have been strong advocates for as much in school learning as possible, there are several realities which require the Governor’s help before many months of planning can be altered.

  1. Convincing evidence that less than 6′ of distance is safe. We need medical experts to explicitly coalesce around safe distancing which allows for increased student capacity in classrooms.
  2. School bus transportation must allow for significantly larger student bus capacity. We are limited right now with bus availability and the significant costs to expand bus usage.
  3. Help with collective bargaining provisions since there is no way to make unilateral changes in previous agreements with local unions. Superintendents have already negotiated extensively on return to school plans.

M.A.S.S. and Superintendents across Massachusetts would welcome any statewide efforts to address these issues, that are beyond a local community’s power to impact.  With that assistance and support, we look forward to the time when more in-school learning is both feasible and achievable.

PDF Version of Statement

“Baker tells schools to reopen classrooms, even as virus surges” Read the Boston Globe Article HERE 

“Thomas Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, said superintendents are trying the best they can to educate students in person, but there are many competing factors, including demands from teachers unions, staffing shortages, limited finances, and facility improvements, particularly with ventilation systems. He said the new rules and the overhaul metrics will likely be helpful down the road, but in the short term they could create some problems.”“Mass. school districts’ plans vary widely on key practices for pandemic-era education, review finds ”

“Mass. school districts’ plans vary widely on key practices for pandemic-era education, review finds” Read the Boston Globe Article HERE

“If the governor wants to come out and say, ‘This is what we’re going to do and how we’ll do it,’ we’re all in,” Tom Scott said. “But right now, this has been left to local decision-making… to just change that abruptly is going to require some sort of state mandates.”

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