Baker announces all Mass. schools will be closed for rest of school year

BOSTON (WHDH) - Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday announced that all public and private schools in Massachusetts will be closed for the rest of the school year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

All school districts will continue on with remote learning for the remainder of the school year to prevent the further spread of the highly contagious virus.

“It’s the right thing to do considering the facts on the ground associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” Baker said during a news conference at the State House. “We believe students cannot safely return to school and avoid the risk of transmitting this virus to others.”

Baker explained that the decision to keep schools closed was made after his administration consulted with superintendents across the Commonwealth. He also stressed that the decision does not mark the beginning of an extended summer vacation.

“We’re making this decision to allow school districts to plan through the end of the year and offer remote learning through the end of the school year,” Baker said. “School administrators, principals, and teachers have worked hard to create curriculums and materials and to help their students keep learning at home under these difficult circumstances.”

Each school district has been permitted to call their own shots in regards to grading students but state education officials have recommended a “credit, no credit” system.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is preparing for summer learning to help students who are at risk of following behind grade level to ensure a “strong start for all students in the fall,” according to Baker.

Baker thanked all teachers for their efforts to work with students in a less than ideal learning environment and expressed appreciation for parents who have been watching over their children as they attend school virtually.

Baker also announced that the closure of all non-emergency childcare programs would be extended through June 29. Emergency childcare programs will continue operating as they have been.

There are currently 523 emergency childcare programs statewide serving families of essential workers. Weekly attendance averages about 2,500 children.

The order does not apply to residential special education schools.

The state is working to align the reopening of childcare programs with the reopening of non-essential businesses so parents can easily and safely return to work.

In March, Baker ordered all schools to suspend operations through April 7 before later extending the closures through May 4.

Massachusetts’ stay-at-home advisory remains in effect through May 4. Baker said he could extend the advisory in the near future.

As of Monday night, there were 1,809 reported coronavirus deaths in the Bay State with 39,643 confirmed cases.

All residents are encouraged to wear a face mask when out in public.

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