Mass. Education Commissioner Talks Preparing for School in the Fall

Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Jeffrey Riley said any policy changes will be made in consultation with the medical community

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From pool testing to music class with no singing, Massachusetts' top education official got an up-close look at how the coronavirus pandemic has changed Roberts Elementary in Medford Thursday. 

“We were one of the few districts that started testing, which helped with anxiety and worry,” Medford Superintendent Dr. Maurice Edouard-Vincent said. 



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Medford officials plan to continue the pool testing into next school year because it has been so successful, but with the vaccine out and cases down, many are wondering what if anything will change. 

“We don’t know if it’s going to be continued mask-wearing or three feet of distance. I think we are all wondering,” the school’s principal Kirk Johnson said. 

All public schools in Massachusetts will require in-person learning for the new school year.

In a one-on-one interview with the state’s education commissioner Jeffrey Riley, NBC10 Boston asked him what if any policies will be updated come the fall. 

“We’re going to look at it over the summer. Everything we did at [the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education] has been based on medical advice. We’re blessed in Massachusetts to have such a great medical community. We’ve been working hand in hand with them throughout the pandemic and we’ll continue to do so over the summer,” commissioner Riley said. 

Riley was also asked about the concerns from some districts that they will lose funding if some students are not ready to return to in-person learning and chose to do homeschool instead. 

“We think it’s time to get back to school. We’ve seen really disturbing data about kids being out of school and the mental health repercussions that take place because of that, so we want to see kids back in school,” Riley said. 

Knowing the adjustment will not be easy from some students, Medford is already planning welcome activities and other emotional and social support. They said they will do whatever it takes to help students get back into the rhythm. 

“It is going to take the students time, but we’re prepared to support them through the transition and get them to normalcy,” Edouard-Vincent said. 

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