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Governor Baker not ready to re-open economy, schools closed for rest of school year, non-emergency child care closure extended

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Schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year and the economy is not ready to be opened, according to Governor Baker.

In a noon press conference talking about wanting to reopen the economy, Baker stated that “Doing it wrong could create more hardship for everyone in the long run and we are going to do everything we can to avoid that.”

Baker stated that right now the Commonwealth is still in the surge and our health care system is keeping up thanks in part to public social distancing but we are still very much in the grips of the pandemic.

“We’ll put together a thoughtful framework to get Massachusetts back to normal times, but it’s really important for people to understand what’s at stake as the rules of engagement have to be right before we return to normal.”

Baker also stated, besides specialty schools, all schools in Massachusetts will be closed for the rest of the school year as he feels school children cannot return to school safely. Remote learning will continue.

Additional steps to boost remote learning will be put in place, according to Baker.

Baker noted how difficult and painful the school closures are.

Baker also announced non-emergency childcare programs will now stay closed until June 29th. The Governor stated that child care will be added back slowly and safely.

Details on the order and announcements:

· The order by Baker expands the March 25 order suspending normal educational operations at schools and non-emergency child care programs. The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) established a process to approve Exempt Emergency Child Care Programs to serve families of first responders, medical personnel and essential workers.

· Emergency Child Care programs approved by EEC will continue operating. Currently there are 523 emergency child care programs statewide serving families of essential workers. Weekly attendance averages about 2,500 children in these programs across the Commonwealth.

· EEC will continue to pay subsidies to child care providers based on their pre-COVID-19 enrollment, in order to support the workforce.

· The order does not apply to residential special education schools.

Child Care Program Resources: The Department of Early Education and Care is reviewing its regulations and funding programs to develop new approaches to incrementally restore child care capacity for family child care and center-based programs in the coming months.

To support families of essential workers and families with children who have special needs, EEC and Care.com have partnered to assist currently unemployed child care workers and provide skilled in-home care. Care.com is offering both eligible families and child care workers free 90-day premium memberships.

Complementing the existing partnership between WGBH and DESE, EEC is launching further collaboration with WGBH to provide resources and activities for parents with young children.

Remote Learning Resources: The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will issue updated guidelines for schools to support remote learning efforts through the duration of the school year, including expanded STEM learning, and will prepare recommendations to strengthen summer learning opportunities for students.

DESE has launched a Remote Learning Essentials initiative, focused on addressing access to tools, Internet connectivity, and educator training necessary to enhance remote learning during school closures.

The department is conducting a survey of school districts to identify barriers that inhibit effective remote learning, including challenges around inequitable access to technology.

An advisory group of administrators, educators, parents, students and business leaders will engage external partners to mobilize resources for schools, including philanthropic gifts and in-kind contributions.

DESE will also solicit input from national and local education vendors regarding the potential to create a statewide online education platform for districts to opt into and customize.

STEM Learning: In partnership with EEC, DHE, the STEM Advisory Council and Regional STEM Networks, DESE has established online STEM education resources to provide continued support for remote learning opportunities. This includes virtual STEM learning opportunities for both students and teachers.

No-Interest Student Loan Program: The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) is deferring scheduled repayments for its No-Interest Loan Program for a duration of four months to support relief efforts during the COVID-19 public health emergency. These deferments will help approximately 12,000 students that participate in the $5 million program annually funded through the repayment of loans.

All no-interest loan accounts currently in repayment will automatically be placed in a deferment from April 2020 through July 2020. This deferment will not count toward the program’s permissible 36 months of available deferment.

If a payment has already been made for April, that payment will be applied to the outstanding balance and not refunded. While accounts are in deferment, borrowers who wish to continue monthly payments may do so, without incurring late fees until July 31, 2020.

Accounts currently 120 days past due will not be placed into collections until August 2020, and regular credit bureau reporting will resume at the end of August.

Eviction and Foreclosure Protections: Yesterday, Governor Baker signed legislation into law to protect homeowners and tenants from eviction and foreclosure. An Act providing for a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 emergency ensures housing stability for residents and families.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. SocialCrusticeCrusader

    April 21, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    This shutdown is going to send a repercussion into the economy that will reverberate for decades. But thank you
    o’mighty government you can spend into oblivion and saddle me with your debts and I will fall softly into your bondage. 90 percent tax rates will be welcomed by US; your dutiful slaves, the American people.

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