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Educators pause remote learning this week to retool curriculum

WAYLAND, Mass. — Gov. Charlie Baker’s original statewide school closure was scheduled to end today. Instead, schools are looking at least another month of remote learning.

The adjustments are coming at different paces for different districts, and this transitional week will be a key one for many as they try to stay connected to the students and their families.

“The big conversations right now that we’re having with our colleagues in education are about what are we gonna do to make sure kids actually learn something between now and the end of the year,” Baker said during a recent news conference.

With schools closed for an additional month until at least May 4, the state’s guidance to local school districts changed from recommending mostly review learning to including some new curriculum.

Brian Jones, principal of Wayland’s Loker Elementary School, said they’ll have to look at education in a different light for the next couple of months.

The school’s superintendent released a letter to parents explaining that teachers would pause remote learning on Wednesday and Thursday this week to retool for phase two and what’s ahead.

“It’s been a very challenging time," Jones said. "I will say that we’re gonna be so good at digital learning that we’re probably never going to have to have a snow day again.”

Jones said one of the challenges is helping students in kindergarten through second grade, who often aren’t in a position to learn by themselves at home. Jones said they’ll focus on language arts and his students in third through fifth grade will learn math, using a variety of technologies and approaches.

“We’re very conscious of screentime and this time right now that’s definitely a challenge. Trying to think of activities that are creative in nature that don’t necessarily require an iPad or a computer.”

Following Massachusetts guidance, Wayland’s middle and high school students will soon earn pass-no pass grading for their work.

“We are planning as if we’re going to be back on May 4, but at the same time we’re having a lot of conversations about ‘what if we’re out for the rest of the year," Jones said.

As educators throughout Massachusetts move forward with new curriculum over the next month at least, Jones said the No. 1 priority is making sure they can teach in a way that’s feasible and accessible to every student and family.