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Planning To Reopen - Our Schools, DESE Available Resources, Materials and Considerations For High Schools

9/2/2020 (Permalink)

By now most parents of the Commonwealth know which of the three possible education models their school districts have chosen to begin the 2020-2021 academic year. The possibilities are:

  1. In-person - learning with new and enhanced safety requirements
  2. Hybrid - some combination of In-person (with new and enhanced safety requirements) and remote learning
  3. Remote - 100% remote learning environment

The way in which our children learn and our educators teach to begin this school year will be will challenging for both to say the least. Regardless of the reopening model chosen by your school district, all schools will be providing remote learning to some extent. To ensure that our children's learning experience is not diminished by these significant changes to their leaning structure the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has offered the following resources, materials as well as guidance to consider when developing curriculum for high school students.

NOTE: COVID-19 is highly transmissible. Individuals should follow these universal precautions regardless of the extent of mitigation needed:

  1. Follow healthy hygiene practices
  2. Stay at home when sick
  3. Practice social distancing 
  4. Use a cloth face covering (with some exceptions) in community settings when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

The current state of the COVID-19 pandemic is continually evolving. What is true today may not be tomorrow. At this time, the evidence suggests schools have not played a significant role in COVID-19 transmission and that children, particularly younger children, are less likely than adults to be infected with COVID-19.

As always, work with your local health officials to determine a set of strategies appropriate for your community’s situation.

(See our Planning to Reopen series of blogs for more information regarding CDCEPAFDAMass EEAMass DESE, and OSHA safety requirements). To review the administration's reopening guidance from the state click here. To view Governor Baker's full report click here).

Resources Available To School Districts

Providing students and teachers with access to stronger curricular materials can be a powerful way to narrow opportunity gaps and accelerate student learning at scale. During these difficult times school and district leaders lack the time and information necessary to make well-informed decisions about curriculum. 

The CURATE project is DESE's response to this opportunity and need. The project's goal is to make it easier for schools and districts to lay a foundation of great curricular materials in every classroom, so that teachers can focus on making those materials work for the students they know best.

View quick reference guides on critical components of curriculum:

  1. Assessing your curriculum landscape
  2. Aligning curriculum to Massachusetts standards
  3. Ensuring curricular coherence

View the rubrics CURATE panels use to evaluate curricular materials (English Language Arts and Literacy; Mathematics; Science and Technology/Engineering)

  1. CURATE English Language Arts & Literacy Rubric
  2. CURATE Mathematics Rubric
  3. CURATE Science & Technology/Engineering Rubric

High-Quality Instructional Materials and Remote

It is paramount to ensure that every student in Massachusetts has access to a safe and supportive school environment that cultivates academic curiosity and confidence. Students have equitable access to an excellent education. Students read meaningful texts across content areas, work on complex real-world problems, participate in the arts, and share their ideas through speaking and writing using evidence, all in an effort to understand the world, their personal identities and their roles in the world.

Instruction is most powerful when educators have strong content knowledge and access to high-quality instructional materials and professional learning that promote inclusive practice accessible to all students, including English learners and students with disabilities; support authentic, engaging, and interdisciplinary student learning experiences; and invest families and students in their learning.

To support standards-based learning, we believe that every student should engage:

  • with grade-appropriate text every day
  • with meaningful real-world problems every day
  • in scientific conversations using data every week

DESE’s is offering a 5-Part online module series though its Center for Instructional SupportThis seriesreviews key instructional practices and provides tips and strategies for remote teaching aligned to the Standards and Indicators of Effective Practice and the MA Curriculum Frameworks for ELA/Literacy, Math, History/Social Science, and Science.

To inquire about registering for this series contact: 

Claire Abbott @ Claire.J.Abbott@mass.gov

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is sharing recommendations for high-quality materials that support all district contexts and include free resources (open education resources). CCSSO runs the High-Quality Instructional Materials and Professional Development (IMPD) Network that currently supports eight states
(Delaware, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Wisconsin) to significantly increase the number of
districts selecting high-quality, standards aligned instructional materials and to increase the number of pre-service and in-service teachers
receiving professional development grounded in the use of those materials. To view their recommendations click here.

Special Considerations for Grades 9-12

High school schedules differ from those of younger students in that coursework completion and grading “fuels” a high school transcript that is used to provide information and give access to opportunity for post-secondary life in college and career. Also, in high school, courses are typically taken just once, and that content will not be repeated in their educational career. Thus, it is critical that high school students receive schedules based on their individual credit and course content needs.

Students should enroll in courses according to the school’s normal requirements and processes, with the goal of mastering grade-level skills and building college and career readiness. School officials, in counsel with the student and reflecting on that student’s skills and priorities, should design a full and appropriate schedule for each individual student. Then the student should receive remote instruction and coursework for each of those courses commensurate with what they would have received in person. While high school schedules are much more varied than schedules at other educational levels, schools should assure that students are accessing the skills and knowledge detailed in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for their grade level. In cases where schools have limited teaching staff to support remote courses (such as for particular courses), districts may consider purchasing individual courses with certified educators provided, such as through a partnership with Commonwealth Virtual Schools. Click here to visit the website.

Schools and districts should also consider student agency throughout the scheduling process. High school students should have an opportunity to plan for their academic, personal/social, and career success through an individual planning process such as My Career and Academic Plan. This may include scheduled time with school counselors and other engaged educators to meet the needs of college and career planning in both a group and individual setting.  

NOTE: According to Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education areas of the school visited by the COVID-19 positive individual must be closed off and/or cleaned and disinfected. The area can be used 12 hours after cleaning/disinfecting has occurred.

While the administration continues to work with communities to implement best practices and protocols for reopening our schools we will continue to share with you guidance from the CDCEPAFDAMass EEAMass EECMass DESE, and OSHA and the Governor's office to follow as we prepare for the new school year.

Also, we at SERVPRO of Framingham know that not every community has access to the resources necessary to meet the strict cleaning guidelines to ensure a safe environment for our children. For those communities, we are here to help!

Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned

The Disaster Remediation Teams at SERVPRO of Framingham are specialists in cleaning services and we adhere to the highest cleaning and sanitation standards. We are prepared to clean and disinfect your schools, according to protocols set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We have years of experience in dealing with biological contaminants, and we will go beyond the scope of work of "normal daily cleaning". Call SERVPRO of Framingham today for a free consultation - (508) 370-4400.

All of us here at SERVPRO of Framingham want you and your loved ones to stay safe and know that we will make it through this together! Rest assured, we will continue to do our best to keep you up-to-date and informed!

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