BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts education officials are considering ways to change the way the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System test is administered this winter in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley on Tuesday said the tests are still on track to be administered, but that the department is considering options like limiting the amount of time students take the test or at-home testing.
Passing the test is a requirement for high school graduation.
“We are continuing to look into the options available to us for the testing that is occurring in the winter. I am not announcing any changes today regarding the tests that are scheduled for January through March but we’ll monitor the situation closely and make a determination very soon if our approach to testing changes,” Riley said during a Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting, Masslive.com reported.
Spring MCAS tests are scheduled to start in April.
Christine Spelman, a graduation coach at Springfield High School of Science and Technology, said during a public comment period that administering MCAS is a logistical nightmare for districts that have only had remote lessons this year.
VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS
The number of newly confirmed coronavirus deaths increased by 53 on Wednesday while the number of newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose by more than 3,200.
State health officials cautioned that due to a technological issue that resulted in an interruption of the data download, the new numbers reflect case counts from up to a 30-hour period instead of the usual 24-hour period.
The new deaths pushed the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 10,372 and its confirmed caseload since the start of the pandemic to nearly 207,300.
The true number of cases is likely higher because studies suggest some people can be infected and not feel sick.
There were more than 940 people reported hospitalized Wednesday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with more than 200 in intensive care units.
The number of probable or confirmed COVID-19 deaths reported in long-term care facilities rose to 6,727.
OUTDOOR DINING IN BOSTON
Boston has no plans to shut down restaurants in the city as the state works to bring a second surge in COVID-19 cases under control.
The city is planning to end outdoor dining on public property like streets and sidewalks on Dec. 1. Restaurants have been allowed to use public areas to help reduce the spread of the virus through indoor dining.
Restaurants will still be allowed to offer outdoor dining on private property indefinitely, Mayor Marty Walsh said as a Wednesday press conference outside Boston City Hall.
Walsh said the city is working on a revised outdoor dining program for the spring.
The Cambridge City Council has pushed for new restrictions on indoor dining and have encouraged other municipalities to take similar steps to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
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