March 27, 2020
Dear Braintree Parents/Guardians & Students,
I would like to start by thanking you for your continued efforts and patience as our entire school community adjusts and responds to what is an incredibly dynamic and concerning situation. Above all, please know that the first and most important consideration in all that we do is the health and safety of our faculty, staff, students and community. This letter is a follow up to the communications we sent to you on March 18 and March 22.
On Wednesday of this week, Governor Baker issued an order to extend school closure through the month of April, with a planned return date of Monday, May 4th. Our last day of school will still be Thursday, June 25th, regardless of how many more days we are out due to mandated COVID-19 shutdown. In response to the Governor’s extended school closure, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) issued new guidance to all school departments yesterday, including the following:
This crisis disproportionately affects our most vulnerable students in terms of their physical and mental health, as well as academically. Equity needs to be a top consideration in local planning efforts, especially as districts and schools make plans to manage an extended closure.
At the same time, with school closures now extended, districts, schools, and communities have an obligation to engage students in meaningful and productive learning opportunities through an appropriately structured educational program.
Districts support students to engage in meaningful and productive learning for approximately half the length of a regular school day. This learning should take place via a combination of educator-directed instruction and student self-directed learning.
Given the extended closure and the recent DESE guidance, we are beginning to transition to a more formal structure for remote learning. This shift will move our remote learning beyond the enrichment activities that we have been providing to a plan that will have a greater emphasis on academic assignments, student and teacher engagement, and deeper learning.
We are very mindful that while many of our students and families have the time and means to support at home learning, others are struggling to manage in this incredibly difficult time. Some of our students require support services to access learning, and our special education staff is working hard to determine the most effective ways for us to provide these necessary supports to our students. The shift to more formal and structured learning calls on us to ensure we are providing equity of access to learning for all of our students and their families. As many of you can attest, Braintree is among the best school systems in the Commonwealth when it comes to meeting the needs of our most challenged and vulnerable students. Regardless of the challenges we face with this current health crisis, we remain steadfast in our commitment to supporting all of our students.
Further communications about our transition to a more formal structure for remote learning will be sent to you over the coming days. For next week, March 30th - April 3rd, we will continue with our practice of providing families with educational resources through our website: https://braintreeschools.org/dailylearning.
Once again, thank you for your continued support and patience as we work to ensure a plan that is in the best interest of students, staff, and parents.
Frank Hackett, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools