As teachers and administrators throughout the state try to finalize guidelines for the start of the school year, Gov. Charlie Baker expressed concern Friday over the idea of remote-only learning this fall.
Baker cited the success of summer school and special education programs this summer as an indicator that in-person learning can be done successfully.
“When we went to remote back in March, all those kids and all these teachers knew each other," he said Friday in a press conference. "You're talking about a bunch of kids and a bunch of teachers who won’t know each other at all.”
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School districts in Massachusetts now have until August 14 to file their "final" reopening plans with the state. Several districts that had initially been leaning toward a hybrid model are already announcing fully remote plans for at least the start of the school year.
School districts in Somerville, Lynn, Revere, Leominster and Oxford have all recommended remote-only starts that contradict the push from Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley and Baker to try to get as many students back to school as possible.
“First, second and third graders...trying to teach those kids how to read remotely? That’s not how you teach kids how to read," Baker said. "You teach kids how to read phonetically, with repetition and with individualized attention.”
Baker stressed the need for individual communities to take a look at their numbers, and make educated decisions based upon the data. State officials will provide financial assistance and guidance, he said, but the decision is up to local officials.
"There are many communities in the state that are in very good shape when it comes to their COVID rates, and there are a bunch that we have work to do," Baker said. “I think to wipe away the idea, to say that everyone should go remote, first of all the facts don’t support it, the data doesn’t support it and the science doesn’t support it, and I’ll leave it at that.”