Schools will shift to mandatory assignments

Superintendent Gregory Martineau made a big announcement. With the re-extended school closures, the schools will shift from optional “enrichment” opportunities to assigning required work.

Under the previous rules from the Mass Dept of Education, the schools couldn’t assign required work. That also means that work wasn’t graded.

This morning’s announcement doesn’t specify if the mandatory work will be assessed for grades. Martineau promises to email more details on how “NSBORO-CONNECT 2.0” will work this Sunday. (So, it appears that the remainder of at least this week will still be optional learning.)

Martineau states that the district is well prepared for this change due to its investments in technology. Still, he acknowledges that for some of its population of “diverse learners”, the new curriculum is going to be more of a challenge.

Here is the full message:

Given Governor Charlie Baker’s announcement that schools across the Commonwealth will remain closed through May 4, 2020, I want to provide families with an update. Prior to learning this new information, the District was already planning for an extended closure and District leaders, association presidents, and educators have been working collaboratively to develop NSBORO-CONNECT 2.0. Throughout this collaboration, there has been a common understanding that NSBORO-CONNECT 2.0 needs to be realistic for all involved: Educators, parents, and students. The District’s highest priority remains the same: to stay connected to our students, ensure that they remain engaged in learning, and that families have what they need, from meals to technology.

On Sunday, I will be sharing information about NSBORO-CONNECT 2.0. With the announcement of an extended closure, the District will be moving from optional learning experiences for students, to required assignments and new curriculum. Again, I will share specific information with families on Sunday evening. The District is well positioned to move to a virtual learning environment. With the school committees’ and communities’ investments in technology over the past couple of years, the District has the tools and resources to make a shift to virtual learning.

Moving in this direction is not easy, but it is the right thing to do to ensure continuity of learning for our students. Our student body is diverse; we have students who have Individualized Educational Programs, English Language Learners, economically disadvantaged students, and students who need acceleration; the diversity is expansive. The District will do its best to accommodate its diverse learners in a virtual environment. What is clear is that it is impossible to replicate what happens in our schools daily. However, I can assure you that educators are willing and ready to do their best under these new conditions.

Faculty, staff, principals, District leaders and I are keenly aware of how the closure of school is impacting families, as many of us are also trying to adjust to this change with our own families. The District will be reaching out to families and providing tutorials and tips for making the most of this new reality. Lastly, I remain optimistic that we’ll be able to open our doors and finish the school year strong. If you have any questions or need assistance, please reach out to your child(s) teacher(s), school principal, school nurse, school counselors, or me.

If you still don’t have a computer for your child, the district’s FAQs earlier this week instructed to reach out to the school principal. For those still without home internet access, the schools had shared information on how some households can get free internet for 60 days. Click here. (FYI – I believe that ComCast still doesn’t provide service in most areas of Southborough, but Charter covers the entire town.)

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