Massachusetts public schools’ new amendments

Massachusetts public schools new amendments

Willie Lopez Morales , Social Media Editor

Commencing on January 19th, 2021 the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will be implementing new amendments to the live and remote instruction times for Massachusetts schools. These new amendments include new standards for the amount of synchronous hours needed as part of the learning schedule for all schools. These new standards differ from school to school depending on if the school is offering fully remote school days, or are using a mixture of remote learning and in person instruction known as the hybrid model. Because of these new requirements, schools have been faced with the challenge of altering their schedules so that they do not have to make up loss time during the summer months. 

As remote learning came about the concepts known as synchronous learning and asynchronous learning were introduced. The term “synchronous learning” is used to describe time where students are in a live session with an instructor. During these times students can access assistance with their assignments and have interactions with their peers as well as their teachers. “Asynchronous learning” is any time where students are completing school work without being connected to an educator or other students. During asynchronous learning students complete their tasks that were previously known as homework or any other material that potentially spilled over the allotted “live” class time. 

During a board meeting, DESE adopted amendments which would now require schools to have a minimum amount of time for instruction. Of course, these times had to be fit to the learning model each school was Using. For schools who are using a hybrid model where students do both in person and online learning, they are required at least 35 hours of synchronous instruction over a 10 day period. On the other hand, for schools offering only remote learning, they are required at least 40 hours of synchronous instruction over a 10 day period. This means that schools need to provide at least 3.5 hours a day of synchronous instruction for hybrid models and 4 hours of synchronous time for remote learning.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education also made it very clear that “office hours” where students are not required to attend, does not count as synchronous time and need to be incorporated after the synchronous instruction time is met. A lot of school districts had constructed times where students were expected to complete school work using an asynchronous model after live sessions were over, but were also able to access their teachers if needed. Unfortunately these times had to be removed in order to meet the time standards from DESE. Many schools are starting new learning schedules to meet the expectations of the state. Students, educators and parents have voiced their concerns and are waiting for a response from the higher up.