BOSTON (WPRI) — Students across Massachusetts will continue learning from home for the rest of the school year as Gov. Charlie Baker ordered all public and private school buildings to remain closed, along with non-emergency child care centers.
“It’s the right thing to do, considering the facts on the ground associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” Baker said Tuesday. “At this point in time, there is no authoritative guidance or advisories with respect to how to operate schools safely and how to get kids to and from schools safely.”
“We believe students, therefore, cannot safely return to school and avoid the risk of transmitting this virus to others,” he continued.
The order does not apply to residential special education schools, according to Baker.
The Mass. Department of Public Health reported 152 more COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, bringing the total to 1,961, along with 1,556 new cases for a total of 41,199.
More than 175,000 tests have been conducted to date, according to the DPH.
Baker commended teachers and administrators for their hard work in providing remote-learning opportunities for their students and said he understands how difficult the situation is for everyone involved.
“Massachusetts is home to some of the brightest students in the nation, and this pandemic has upended their lives as well,” Baker said. “Being away from their friends, their teachers, their sports and other important resources for many of them — for all of them — has been a terrible loss.”
In an effort to identify any challenges associated with remote learning and make sure students and educators have the tools they need, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education plans to conduct surveys in each district and put together an advisory group consisting of administrators, teachers, students, parents and area business leaders.
Aside from schools, Baker announced all non-emergency child care programs will remain closed until at least June 29. More than 250 exempt programs are available for families of first responders, medical personnel and other essential workers, and Care.com is offering free 90-day premium memberships for unemployed child care workers and eligible families in need of care.
In addition, the Mass. Department of Higher Education said scheduled repayments for its No Interest Loan Program will be deferred for four months. If a payment has already ben made for April, the department said it will be applied to the outstanding balance.
For more information on COVID-19 in Massachusetts, visit Mass.gov, call 211 or text COVIDMA or COVIDMAESP (Spanish) to 888-777 to receive text notifications.
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