Haverhill, Area School Districts Agree to Work Together to Implement Remote Learning Plan

Education Commissioner Jeff Riley, right, with Gov. Charlie Baker. (Photograph by Sam Doran/SHNS.)

Area school districts have agreed to work together to meet the state’s remote learning requirements.

Under the umbrella of the Merrimack Valley Superintendents Association, among those taking part are Haverhill, Lawrence, Methuen and North Andover Public Schools and Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School. Altogether, 27 schools and districts are involved in the plan released Friday afternoon.

“Our districts will collaborate over the next several days to create an educational experience to best meet the needs of all learners,” superintendents said in a joint statement. “Our shared belief is that, in future years when children reflect on this time in their lives, what they will remember most are the positive connections they felt at an uncertain time.”

When Gov. Charlie Baker ordered Wednesday that schools remain closed through at least May 4, he made it clear his administration intended for schools to adopt remote learning techniques. “This is not an extended school vacation,” he emphasized.

Yesterday, Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley issued recommendations for districts to follow. In doing so, Riley said, the state’s aim was to reduce “significant variation from one district to the next.” Riley notes, “…communities have an obligation to engage students in meaningful and productive learning opportunities through an appropriately structured educational program.”

The commissioner said schools should not confuse “remote learning” with “online learning.” His recommendations note, as examples, “large-group video or audio conference calls, 1:1 phone or video calls, email, work packets, projects, reading lists, online learning platforms.”

Riley’s guidance explains, “Remote learning can take place in a multitude of ways, including by helping students engage with resources in their everyday lives and in the natural world around them. Remote learning also provides unique opportunities to further engage students in the arts or interdisciplinary work. Finally, we must be conscious of the effects of increased screen time and seek balance between learning through technology and remote learning that happens offline to support students’ curiosity and understanding.”

Specifically, the state recommends “meaningful and productive learning” take place for about half of a regular school day through “a combination of educator-directed learning and student self-directed learning.”

The recommendations may be found by clicking here.

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