SWANSEA, Mass. (WPRI) — We’re all learning as we go. While students are adapting to remote learning, parents are suddenly becoming teacher proxies in addition to their own jobs.
Many teachers are simultaneously learning how to teach remotely while also caring for their own children at home.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker closed in-school learning until May 4 but announced this week he would soon be updating the Commonwealth on a potential extension of that cancelation. Coronavirus has yet to hit its projected peak in cases.
Eyewitness News reached out to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to find out the decision on April vacation week, which was scheduled for the third week of April starting Monday, April 20, which is Patriots’ Day.
DESE sent a copy of a letter sent to superintendents on April 3. In it, Commissioner Jeffrey Riley said:
We have received questions about whether school districts should keep their planned April school vacation week this year (the week of Patriots’ Day, April 20) or use that week to continue the remote learning plan they have put in place. This is a local decision. Each school committee or public school board of trustees establishes the school year schedule for its schools, consistent with state standards outlined in the Student Learning Time regulations. Within those standards, the school committee or board may adjust the school calendar to meet the needs of its community, subject to collective bargaining as applicable. For school districts that are considering using part or all of the April vacation week to provide continuity of learning for students, please note that Patriots’ Day is a statewide legal holiday. In the On the Desktop message, “Coronavirus Updates on 180-Day Requirement and More,” dated March 10, I stated that the longest any school district would be required to go in the current school year is its scheduled 185th day, although a district could decide to go longer. If a school district continues providing its remote learning program for students from April 21 to 24, the district is not required to go beyond its previously scheduled 181st day. Districts that maintain the April vacation week as a school vacation will be expected to resume their remote learning program on April 27 and conclude the school year no earlier than the previously scheduled 185th day. Whichever way you decide to use the week of April 20 for your school community, we appreciate all the thoughtful work that districts and educators are doing to maintain strong connections with students and promote their well-being and continued learning during this challenging time.Commissioner Jeffrey Riley
In a FaceTime interview, Swansea Public Schools Superintendent John Robidoux explained his decision to keep vacation week for the district, saying, “I think folks really need those couple days to kind of take a breath. Reset, so we can continue the remote learning that we have in place already. The closure right now is until May 4th. I’m kind of thinking that we’re going to hear from the governor fairly surely, this is my opinion that we’re probably going to continue through the rest of the year.”
Fall River Superintendent Matthew Malone said in a statement that the Fall River School Committee voted to move up vacation week to April 1 – April 6.
Meantime in Attleboro, the school department said, “Monday our School Committee voted to move the school days scheduled for June 22 and 23, which are required under state regulations, to April 21 and 22. This makes our last day of school, under any circumstances, Friday, June 19. These two workdays for teachers will allow our district to offer Remote Learning Plans (RLPs) for the week of April Break and for teachers to support students and families in service of those plans.”
Other districts posted the decision on their websites. In New Bedford, Superintendent Thomas Anderson explained in a video his decision to cancel the break. We checked with each district in southeastern Massachusetts and found that while some kept April vacation week intact, many canceled it.
Here’s a breakdown of each district’s decision:
|April Vacation Week, By District|
|Attleboro||School on April 21 and 22|
|Diman Regional Vocational Technical|
|Fall River||School committee moved vacation to April 1-6|
|Greater New Bedford Regional|
Vocational Technical High School
|School except for Monday*|
|New Bedford||No vacation|
|North Attleboro||No vacation|
|Westport||Off Monday* and Friday|