DESE denies Curley waiver for 7 remote learning days to count towards state requirement, approves 4

BOSTON — The state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education denied a bid from the Curley K-8 School in Boston to have their seven remote learning days be counted towards the commonwealth’s 180 school day requirement after the school closed to in-person learning following a COVID-19 outbreak.

The Curley School closed for 10 days beginning on Wednesday, November 10 after more than 45 positive cases of COVID-19 were confirmed across several classrooms in three weeks, BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius said. The plan was to have students undergo remote learning through Monday, November 22.

The school had applied for all seven of those remote learning days to count towards the state’s requirement of 180 school days. However, DESE denied that waiver request Friday morning, instead allowing just four of those days to be counted: Wednesday, November 10, Friday, November 12, Monday, November 15, and Tuesday, November 16.

DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley wrote Friday that the timeline will allow BPS officials and the local health commission time to complete contact tracing at the Curley School, create a plan for those identified as close contacts, and set up a re-entry testing program that will begin on Sunday, November 14.

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“Should BPS and/or the local health commission be unable to implement these steps or determine for any reason that it is not appropriate to re-open for in-person learning on Wednesday, November 17, the Curley may continue to offer remote learning at its discretion,” Commissioner Riley wrote.

“However, BPS will not be able to count additional remote learning days from Wednesday, November 17 to Friday, November 19 towards the 180 required days at the Curley. As such, the Curley would need to be prepared to add three days to its school calendar.”

DESE also claimed that they had advised Curley officials on Thursday, November 4 to quarantine individual classrooms after the rise in confirmed cases began but were told that it was not necessary at that time.

Boston 25 News reached out to Boston Public Schools for comment following the DESE announcement; they sent the following statement:

“Boston Public Schools submitted a waiver request to the Commissioner of Education on behalf of the Curley K8 School detailing a robust learning plan, outlining the public health rationale for temporary closure, and requesting that the days of remote instruction count towards the school year.

“This morning, we received the Commissioner’s response to partially approve the request for remote learning and are reviewing our options and next steps on his request to return students sooner than the 10 days the Boston Public Health Commission advised. We will make a decision in partnership with the Boston Public Health Commission, always with the top priority of keeping our students, staff, families and Boston community healthy and safe.”

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