Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife alerts residents of turtles crossing roads to nesting sites

“Thousands of turtles across Massachusetts will be traveling to nesting sites over the next couple months. If you find a turtle on a road or in your backyard, do not move it far away. If you have the opportunity to safely move a turtle from the road, move it in the direction it was heading just off the edge of the road. ⚠️

PLEASE NOTE: Snapping turtles are fast and have very powerful jaws that can inflict a bad bite. If you must move a snapping turtle, the best way is to use a broom to coax it into a plastic tub/box. A snapping turtle can reach your hands if you lift it by the sides of its shell. Never lift a snapping turtle by its tail, as this can injure its spine.


Massachusetts: Chronic Absenteeism Rate Rose in Disrupted School Year

By Katie Lannan
State House News Service

New statewide school attendance data show the percentage of students deemed chronically absent was up so far this pandemic-disrupted school year, as compared to the last three academic years, with rates soaring among English learners, economically disadvantaged students, and students with disabilities.

Seventeen percent of Massachusetts students have been categorized as chronically absent — meaning they missed 10 percent or more of their enrolled school days — through March of the 2020-2021 school year, according to Department of Elementary and Secondary Education numbers updated Friday.

With a statewide enrollment total of 911,465 students, that figure works out to more than 154,000 students absent for 10 percent or more of their school days.

Through March 2 of last year, 13 percent of students were chronically absent students, and the percentage hovered near that point in the 2018-2019 (12.9 percent) and 2017-2018 (13.2 percent) school years.

The average number of absences per student so far this year sits at six, close to the 5.7 recorded last year and below the 9.6 from 2018-2019, the last school year not disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schooling in Massachusetts — as in other places across the country and the globe — has been transformed by COVID-19, creating new challenges for students, families and educators.

School buildings throughout the state shuttered in March 2020, forcing an abrupt and experimental transition to remote learning amid a public health crisis that threw much of daily life into disarray.

When the new school year began in the fall, some districts remained fully remote while others brought back in-person learning part-time or full-time. More students have returned to classrooms throughout the year, and as of April 27, 146 districts were fully in-person for grades K-12.

Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley this spring set deadlines for districts that had not already done so to phase out remote learning. Except for cases where the state approved waivers, elementary and middle schoolers were due back in classrooms in April, and May 17 is the date for high schoolers.

“Absenteeism is one of the challenges that has prompted the Department to urge and require school districts to provide in-person learning,” Colleen Quinn, a spokesperson for the Executive Office of Education, said in a statement to the News Service. “While school committees set policies related to attendance, and parents and school districts have the primary responsibility for attendance of individual students, the Department recognizes chronic absenteeism as an important element of all school districts’ accountability measurements, and uses the data in combination with other indicators to make determinations as to which school districts need more assistance and involvement from DESE.”

Remote instruction means students don’t have to worry about inclement weather, missing a bus or having a parent available to take them to school. It also lacks the engagement with peers and teachers that comes along with in-person classes and can present new obstacles to participation, like a lack of reliable internet or quiet workspace, or a need to oversee a younger sibling’s schoolwork.

Families are able to choose to have their students continue remote learning for the rest of the school year, and state guidance requires that students who are learning remotely have a daily opportunity to interact with a teacher. The latest updates to that guidance require a visual component as part of the daily live check-in, using videoconferencing or other methods of seeing students.

“Schools and districts need to assess how to use video conferencing in a way that is respectful of individual student’s needs,” the guidance says. “For example, if a student is reluctant to be seen in their home by classmates, a teacher might meet with the student in a breakout room with a virtual background for a short period of time to conduct the live check-in. In situations where the district or school has concerns about a student’s attendance or level of engagement, they should employ additional levels of support to re-engage the student.”

Along with new efforts around keeping students engaged in learning, this school year has presented districts — and state and local budget-writers — with new questions around enrollment numbers. Largely driven by declines in pre-K and kindergarten, the state’s 400 school districts experienced an enrollment decline of more than 30,000 students this year, and it’s unclear exactly how many will return to their public school systems in the fall.

Statewide, the 2020-2021 attendance rate stands at 94 percent, down from last year’s 94.7 percent and the 94.6 percent recorded in each of the previous two years. The number of students with more than nine days of unexcused absences this year is 3.9 percent, down from 6.8 percent in 2019-2020 and 16.7 percent in the 2018-2019 school year.

Attendance and absenteeism figures vary by district, and across student subgroups.

This year’s chronic absenteeism percentage is higher among students who are economically disadvantaged (29.6 percent, from 21.5 percent last year), English learners (29.6 percent, from 19.5 percent last year) and students with disabilities (26.3 percent, from 19.9 percent last year) than the statewide 17 percent.

That figure also varies by race and ethnicity — 6.8 percent of Asian students, 12.7 percent of white students, 23.9 percent of African American and Black students and 28 percent of Hispanic/Latino students fall into the chronically absent category.

Among the largest school districts, the department’s data show 26.7 percent of Boston’s 48,112 students are chronically absent, along with 23.2 percent of Springfield’s 24,239 students, 21.7 percent of Worcester’s 23,986 and 21.1 percent of Lynn’s 15,587.

The chronically absent percentage differs across the three districts under state receivership — 46.2 percent in Southbridge, 39.1 percent in Holyoke and 18.6 percent in Lawrence. Districts consisting of one school, like charter or regional schools, land all over the spectrum.

Phoenix Academy Public Charter High School in Lawrence — which aims to serve “resilient, disconnected students” and on its website classifies 33 percent of its students as “formerly truant/dropout” — has a chronically absent rate of 99.4 percent, according to the DESE data, and Learning First Charter Public School in Worcester has a rate of 2.4 percent.

At Nashoba Valley Regional Vocational Technical School in Westford, 1.2 percent of students are chronically absent, and at Ralph C. Mahar Regional School in Orange, 64.9 percent of students meet that description.

State education officials in 2018 added chronic absenteeism as one of the indicators in their updated school and district accountability system.

On March 10, 2020, when Gov. Charlie Baker first declared a state of emergency around COVID-19, officials also announced measures to give districts more flexibility in their response to the public health crisis. For the 2019-2020 school year, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education disregarded attendance data beyond March 2, 2020 for accountability purposes, calculating chronic absenteeism based on numbers up until that date.

Baker-Polito administration launches summer learning programs, $70 Million in funding across Massachusetts

The Baker-Polito Administration today announced the establishment of summer learning opportunities and the availability of more than $70 million in funding for school districts and community organizations to offer summer learning and recreational programs that will help students, who have been impacted by a year of remote and hybrid learning, grow academically and socially.

Students at every grade level will have opportunities to take part in a mix of academic and recreational programs offered at schools, after-school providers, community colleges and recreation sites. Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Education Secretary James Peyser and Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley made the announcement while visiting Galvin Middle School in Canton, where school officials are planning to boost learning opportunities for students this summer.

All middle schools in the Commonwealth were required to return to full time in-person learning this week. Elementary schools returned on April 5, and high schools will be required to return by May 17.

“Our administration has long maintained that children are best served academically, socially and emotionally when learning in-person and in the classroom,” said Governor Baker. “After a challenging school year for students, teachers and staff, the focus must now shift to recouping any learning loss experienced remotely to ensure that our children are equipped for success in the classroom and beyond.”

“As students and teachers return to the routine of learning in classrooms, it is time to partner with schools and communities across the Commonwealth to provide opportunities to students in all grades to learn and have fun this summer,” said Lt. Governor Polito. “To support this effort, our administration has developed several options schools can choose from and will make funding available to cover the costs.”

“As important as this summer will be to jumpstarting educational recovery, we must all embrace the reality that this will not be a one-and-done project,” said Education Secretary James Peyser. “It will be a challenge we will continue work to resolve for both individual children and our public education system as a whole.”

“We are providing students access to academics as well as enrichment opportunities to help them grow and keep connected to school this summer,”said Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley. “I hope all districts across the Commonwealth take advantage of these programs and this funding the Administration has made available.”

Acceleration Academies
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will help school districts launch Acceleration Academies, which allow students to learn and build skills working intensively on one subject in small, hands-on learning environments with excellent teachers.

Students benefit from small class sizes, longer uninterrupted instructional blocks, individualized attention, project-based lessons and teacher flexibility for learning time. The Baker-Polito Administration will commit up to $25 million in grants for districts to operate Acceleration Academies using federalElementary and Secondary School Emergency Response (ESSER) discretionary funds. This will be a multi-year program that the Department anticipates will impact more than 50,000 students statewide each year.

Acceleration Academies will include:

• Early Literacy Academies for incoming kindergarteners, rising 1st and 2ndgraders; and

• Math Acceleration Academies for rising 3rd and 4th graders, as well as 8thand 10th graders.

Summer School Matching Grants
DESE will also offer summer school matching grants, up to $15 million in federal ESSER funds, for school districts to offer 4-to-6-week, in-person programs with a mix of in-person academic and recreational activities. The Department is making these funds available to schools to enhance or expand their existing summer programs while also including mental health services and additional supports for students with individualized education plans and English learners.

Summer Acceleration to College
High school graduates from the Class of 2021 will be able to participate in Summer Acceleration to College, a new program that provides recent graduates access to credit-bearing math and English courses at no cost to them as they prepare for college.

Fourteen community colleges in the Commonwealth will participate in this program, expected to be funded at $1 million.

Summer Step Up
The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) will support school districts to offer Summer Step Up, a new program aimed at giving extra support to young learners entering school in the fall.

Young children, who have had limited in-school experiences due to the pandemic, will be able to take part in summer learning opportunities developed in conjunction with community partners to help prepare them for school. With pre-school and kindergarten enrollments down over the last year, Summer Step Up is an opportunity to engage young learners and accelerate learning while smoothing the transition to in-person learning for young children to provide them a stronger foundation for academic success. The Administration will commit up to $10 million to this program.

In addition to these programs, the Baker-Polito Administration will:

• Provide early literacy tutoring grants this summer and during the 2021-22 school year, funded at $10 million.

• Launch a new K-8 Math Acceleration program to help teachers increase student learning over the summer and throughout the school year.

• Expand the Biggest Winner Math Challenge – which was piloted last summer – to serve approximately 2,500 gifted math students, costing approximately $2.5 million.

• Offer college courses over the summer for rising high school juniors and seniors who are enrolled in approved Early College programs, costing approximately $1 million.

• Help camps and community organizations expand educational enrichment as part of their existing summer programs by making at least $3 million in funding available.

To learn more, please contact

New Bedford High School Jazz Band first public performance in a year slated for May 20

By Maxine Dejesus, NBHS Class of 2021 and Kathleen Sprissler, NBHS Class of 2022

The New Bedford High School Jazz Band will perform a free celebratory outdoor concert on Thursday, May 20 at 7:00 p.m. at the Rotch-Jones-Duff House & Garden Museum, 396 County Street in downtown New Bedford. Students hope the public will join them for this milestone event – their comeback debut performance after more than a year of disruption to all of our lives.

In preparing for the concert, Jazz Band members have made good use of time. On Tuesday, April 13, the Jazz Band made their audio recording for the Massachusetts Association of Jazz Educators (MAJE) Virtual Jazz Festival. During this session, the band performed multiple songs at ten feet of distance, with no live audience. MAJE judges will evaluate the group’s recorded presentation.

COVID-19 has presented many challenges that everyone has had to face. One group of students impacted especially hard has been in the area of Fine Arts. Instrumental and choral group practice has been limited due to safety precautions. In addition, virtual sessions and rehearsals have added to the challenges students face as they navigate new technology to come together to study music and improve technique.

Jazz Band provides students with an important outlet for self-expression; an outlet that closed to them when the pandemic began. Asked what jazz means to him, senior saxophonist Hongyu Zhao said, “To me, jazz is a form of creative expression where I can create and share my ideas with others through music.”

The Jazz Band has not performed for a live audience since their last concert back in March 2020. Instead, members met for limited rehearsals in a hybrid and virtual setting. They also livestreamed productions. As in-person rehearsals were gradually phased back in, sessions have been conducted at a distance of ten feet for wind players and six feet for the rhythm section.

When asked about the impact on musicians, Hongyu said, “I didn’t even think Jazz Band would be a thing this year, so being where we are right now means a lot to me.”

The loss of normalcy due to COVID-19 has affected all aspects of high school life. However, students and their teachers have found ways to overcome the challenges of physical separation. Dealing with virtual rehearsals, wearing musician masks, and using instrument covers that reduce sound – all require much patience and resilience. Students and teachers agree that the motivation to persevere is the desire for fellowship with those who share similar interests, and in doing so, find some semblance of normalcy in these uncertain times.

Timothy Mason, Jazz Band Director, has worked tirelessly along with the other performing arts teachers to provide students a musical outlet, even if times are very different. Expressing his pride in the group, Mr. Mason said, “It’s an honor and privilege just to be making music with students at all. To see them reach the level they are at, with all of the restrictions this year, is really an amazing feat. I am incredibly proud of my student musicians.”

When asked about their performance for MAJE, senior clarinetist and vocalist, Jessica Brito, commented, “I feel the recording went well! Although we did perform our songs over again, we used the opportunity to make the best possible recording we could make.”

Despite all the challenges, the Jazz Band is excited for their upcoming concert with a live audience, which will be their first in over a year. Mr. Mason and the students have put together an amazing show; one that will be mostly student-led. More than just the performance, the concert is a student-learning project, which includes planning and logistics, student-run sound, written press releases, photography, and students organizing the setlists and rehearsals. The 15-member ensemble includes 12 students accompanied by two UMass Dartmouth student teachers and an NBHS alumni pianist.

When asked what he is most looking forward to at the RJD concert, sophomore saxophonist, Jayden Santos, responded “Now that we’ve been okayed for our outdoor performance I’m ecstatic knowing that we can only improve from here, as we start to return to normalcy.” His fellow members feel the same – to perform in front of a live audience once again is thrilling.

The RJD Jazz in the Gardens performance begins at 7:00 p.m. and features “Tanglewood style seating” on the lawn and garden area for the public. Bring a picnic, blanket and/or folding lawn chair. Admission is free. Arrive early; space is limited. For more information, contact the Rotch-Jones-Duff House & Garden Museum, (508) 997-1401.

New Bedford’s Buttonwood Park Zoo presents “Preserving a Future for Polar Bears Across the Arctic”

Buttonwood Park Zoo’s Virtual “Wildlife Education Series” is holding its second installment on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 at 7PM. This educational program will showcase Alysa McCall, Director of Conservation Outreach, and Marissa Krouse, Program Manager for Polar Bears International (PBI). PBI is the only conservation organization solely dedicated to wild polar bears. Through research, education, and advocacy, they work to inspire people to care about the Arctic and its connection to our global climate.

Alysa McCall, Director of Conservation Outreach for PBI has a B.Sc. (Hon.) in Animal Biology from Thompson Rivers University and an M.Sc. in Ecology from the University of Alberta where her thesis focused on the polar bears of western Hudson Bay. She gained hands-on experience with polar bears from multiple fall and spring field seasons in Tuktoyaktuk and Churchill, and she has been heavily involved in the collaring and tracking of Hudson Bay polar bears.

Photo Courtsey of Polar Bears International.

Prior to joining PBI’s staff, Alysa volunteered for several years in multiple capacities, including being a panelist on the Tundra Connections program and assisting with the Polar Bear Tracker. She is passionate about science education and polar bear conservation, and is dedicated to ensuring that future generations inherit a healthy planet.

About Marissa Krouse, Program Manager for PBI, has a B.A. ]in psychology with a focus in animal behavior. She worked in a zoo setting for nine years, specifically in the fields of conservation education and animal husbandry. Her role at PBI includes coordinating our Arctic Ambassador Center network, Education and Outreach campaigns, and leading our annual Climate Alliance training sessions for zoo staff, helping them to communicate effectively. She is the co-author of a Polar Bear Diet Trial publication in the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine (2014) and has published in the American Association of Zookeepers National Conference Proceedings (2010, 2011). Marissa is a motivated conservationist who values teamwork and is dedicated to helping others lead their communities. She believes in the legacy she will leave behind and works to leave a healthy planet for future generations.

Buttonwood Park Zoo’s Education Curator, Carrie Hawthorne, has been collaborating with PBI since 2011, including traveling to Churchill, Manitoba, Canada where she has led leadership camps as recently as 2019. BPZOO’s team is currently working to create Science on a Sphere datasets using PBI’s polar bear tracking data, showcasing their research with a global network of educators to connect the polar bear’s story to climate change.

The “Wildlife Education Series” will be held virtually, on Zoom, and is free to attend, but pre-registration is required. Donations are encouraged at the time of registration and will be shared with the speaker’s organization. For more information, visit

Celebrate Portuguese culture with Bristol Community College’s FREE virtual World Portuguese Language Day Zoom event

This year’s exciting program will include opening remarks from Dr. Laura L. Douglas, President of Bristol Community College and Dr. Carlos Almeida, Director of LusoCentro at Bristol Community College, and remarks by Dr. Shelley Pires, Consul of Portugal in New Bedford; Dr. João Caixinha, Coordinator for Portuguese Language Programs and Education Affairs in the United States of America; and a presentation by students from the Global Learning Charter Public School in New Bedford.

The event will also feature keynote presenter Dr. Helena Santos Martins, an active member of the Luso-American community, in addition to a concert by Karina Gomes and her band.

The college’s World Portuguese Language Day is sponsored in part by the Camões Institute, Consulate of Portugal in New Bedford, FLAD, Arte Institute, Consulate Generate of Brazil in Boston, Consulate General of Cabo Verde in Boston and the Bristol Community College Portuguese Club.

Bristol Community College is pleased to invite you to the college’s virtual celebration of World Portuguese Language Day on Thursday, May 6, 2021, beginning at 9 a.m., on Zoom. The event is free and open to all.

Please register for the event using the link below. Once registered, participants will receive a confirmation email invite and information to join the virtual event.

Register here:

For more information about Bristol’s 2021 World Portuguese Language Day, please contact Carlos Almeida by email at or call 401.919.4293.

High School Juniors Won’t Need to Pass MCAS To Graduate in 2022

By Katie Lannan
State House News Service

This year’s high school junior class will not need to take or pass MCAS tests in order to graduate, under a change approved Tuesday by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The move is one of a series of pandemic-influenced shifts the state has made within its standardized testing program since COVID-19 first shuttered school buildings last spring.

Students are typically required to pass 10th grade English and math MCAS exams in order demonstrate competency in the two subjects and graduate. Last year’s 10th graders, the class of 2022, did not have an opportunity to take those tests last spring because education officials obtained a federal waiver and legislative approval to cancel the spring 2020 MCAS administration in the early days of remote learning.

Juniors will still be able to take the test in the spring and next fall to pursue scholarship opportunities, but the board voted to modify graduation requirements for the class of 2022 to allow those students to demonstrate competency in math and English by completing a relevant course instead of earning a passing MCAS score.

The change, which board member Matt Hills described as a “very narrow, tailored approach” affecting one class and one component of the exams, cleared the board unanimously.

“I think we’re as far as we need to go, and I hope this is the end of the modifications to MCAS,” Hills said.

Darlene Lombos, the board’s labor representative, and Jasper Coughlin, its student representative, both said they’d like to have additional conversations about MCAS testing.

“During this year when it’s really easy for students to feel cold and to feel that there aren’t people at higher levels looking out for them, I think this is exactly the type of thing that shows students that we’re caring about them,” said Coughlin, a Billerica Memorial High School student.

The pandemic’s disruptions to schooling have renewed debates about the role of standardized testing, with teachers unions and some lawmakers calling for the MCAS to be canceled this year, and the Baker administration describing the exams as a key tool for gauging where students may have fallen behind while learning remotely.

Ed Lambert, executive director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, wrote to the board on Tuesday voicing a position that members of the class of 2022 should still be required to take the MCAS even if they are not required to earn a certain score to demonstrate competency.

Lambert said that past years’ passing rates suggest 85 percent or more students would achieve what would normally be considered a passing grade, and crossing that threshold would allow them “to know their diploma is of equal weight to those of previous classes of graduates.”

For other students, Lambert said, their scores would provide information that could be used “to create an Educational Proficiency Plan for their final year of school designed to assist them in meeting the essential standards prior to graduation.”

Board member Martin West suggested that schools encourage students to take the test, both for a chance to qualify for scholarships and to “learn about where they stand, relative to the expectations that we as a board have laid out for them.”

The board also voted to solicit public comment on Commissioner Jeff Riley’s proposed amendments to admissions regulations for vocational-technical schools. A final vote is expected in June after the comment period.

Among other changes, Riley’s proposal would give the schools flexibility to set their own admissions policies “that promote equitable access,” and would remove the requirement that grades, attendance, discipline record and counselor recommendation be used as admissions criteria.

Riley’s plan also would require each vocational school and program to annually submit its admissions policy to the state by Aug. 15 and would bar the use of selective criteria that disproportionately exclude members of protected classes, unless the criteria is “validated as essential to participation” and alternatives are unavailable.

Two Chelsea High School students, Aya Faiz and Emily Menjivar, told the board that criteria like grades, attendance, disciplinary records and recommendations can create barriers for students of color, who can face bias at school.

Faiz said she is “extremely cautious” about her behavior at school after getting suspended for two days in middle school for using a curse word. She said she saw her white peers instead get punished with detentions for cursing, and that Black and brown students are often viewed as “more adultified” in schools and therefore receive harsher discipline.

“We are handed higher expectations despite usually being from schools that have less resources and we are punished more severely for not meeting them,” she said.

Menjivar and Faiz are members of the Vocational Education Justice Coalition, which supports moving to lottery-based admissions.

Riley’s amendments seek to make clear that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education can order changes to a school’s admission policy in cases of non-compliance, and those changes “may include requiring a lottery,” according to a memo outlining the proposal.

Another coalition member, Dan French of Citizens for Public Schools, urged the board to have updated rules for vocational school admissions in place by July so that school policies would be submitted for review this August, before the school year begins.

“We don’t need another year of a discriminatory and exclusionary state policy in place,” he said.

French said the new proposal does not go far enough because it gives each school “too much latitude” to interpret what criteria is allowable.

Board member Michael Moriarty called Riley’s recommendations a “stronger approach than simply imposing lotteries across all schools.” He said lotteries amount to “a solution that addresses access” but have “absolutely no eye on outcome.”

UMass Dartmouth receives second grant for LED light fixture upgrades

New efficient light bulbs in the UMass Law School building funded by Eversource.

UMass Dartmouth recently received incentives from Eversource for $15,056 to fund the replacement of over 1,900 older, less efficient light bulbs for new LED models in the UMass Law School building, located at 333 Faunce Corner Road in Dartmouth.

Eversource works with its customers to provide incentives for a variety of energy efficiency upgrades to help lower electricity and gas use, energy costs, and carbon emissions. Inefficient bulbs can often be replaced at no cost to the customer. The customer only needs to provide the staffing to change the bulbs. In addition to the immediate energy savings, another benefit of LED bulb technology is that they last at least 12 years.

Eversource has simplified the process of upgrading old linear fluorescent lamps to new, high-efficiency LED lighting, by working with a network of distributor partners to provide incentives at the point of sale, these partners will even handle the exchanging and recycling of inefficient fluorescent, HID, or incandescent lamps.

“We’re proud to help UMass Dartmouth save on energy costs and lower their carbon emissions,” said Tilak Subrahmanian, Vice President of Energy Efficiency for Eversource. “LED lighting is a great way for customers to dramatically lower energy use at little or no cost with our incentives. Lighting upgrades are just one of the many energy-saving solutions we provide support for.”

Eversource and UMass Dartmouth have been working with Standard Electric to provide the pre-approved bulbs, which DLC Premium products, which maximize the savings to the University.

“Standard Electric’s partnership with Eversource on this program has allowed us to bring tremendous energy savings to customers like UMass Dartmouth with little to no upfront cost for the material we provide. Applying utility incentives at the time of purchase helps to get projects moving forward and has an immediate positive impact on the return on investment” says Nate Pedro, Director of Energy Solutions at Standard Electric.

“At UMass Law, we teach our students to be thoughtful when considering how their efforts impact the communities they serve, and this same thoughtfulness goes into our larger responsibility to sustainability. The installation of new LED lights will bolster our building’s energy-saving efforts and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Dr. John Quinn, Assistant Dean for Public Interest Law and External Relations at UMass Law.

UMass Dartmouth has already replaced lighting on the main campus in the Liberal Arts, Dion, and College of Visual and Performing Arts buildings. This encompassed over 6,500 bulbs being replaced. The savings to the University and Commonwealth are immediate as the program was paid for through Eversource’s incentives and the bulbs were installed by University personnel.

“By making this transition, we are lowering our costs of operation and being responsible stewards of funds received from student’s tuition payments and the annual support from the legislature. It also reduces greenhouse gas emission at the University in our efforts to reach carbon neutrality by 2030,” said Assistant Director of Campus Sustainability, Jamie Jacquart.

New Bedford Public Schools students’ return goes smoothly

NBPS completes 4th phase of yearlong learning plan, leading to full return to classrooms!

New Bedford Public Schools, after months of being in a hybrid and serving 9,000 students 2-days per week completed its first week of 5-day in-person instruction for all grades during the week ending April 9, which continued at a smooth pace this week.

New Bedford Public Schools photo.

Emphasizing safety as the top priority, Superintendent Thomas Anderson stated,” Since April 5, all our elementary schools have expanded at multiple grade levels and our middle schools and high school were back with 5-day in-person instruction as of the end of last week. We must stick to appropriate distancing, hand sanitizing and mask wearing so we can, hopefully, enjoy the traditional end-of-year activities, including promotional ceremonies, graduation and other events.”

At New Bedford High School, ninth graders returned April 5 and 6, with 10-12 graders back as of April 7. With their full return as of April 9, Headmaster Bernadette Coelho noted, “Even as we continue to ensure social distancing, the entire school has an air of excitement, with students and staff greeting each other with smiles and welcomes; it feels like the first day of the school year, though we’ve seen each other virtually since October.”

New Bedford Public Schools photo.

Ensuring a smooth transition back to classrooms for every student, Superintendent Anderson stated, “Access through equity is critical and we are continuing to improve our system so parents can communicate with school staff in their native languages using a phone line that provides 350 languages, including Creole, K’iche, Russian and Arabic to name a few and has had more than 4,100 calls.”

New Bedford Public Schools as of late January had been the largest school district in Massachusetts to retain in-person instruction in a hybrid model since the beginning of the current school year.

Dartmouth’s Bishop Stang High School returns to full-time in-person learning

After a highly acclaimed remote learning program last spring, and a successful hybrid learning model this fall and winter, Bishop Stang High School returned to full-time in-person learning on Monday, April 12. For the remainder of the spring semester, Bishop Stang students will report full-time in person every day. Learning remotely continues to be available for students who opt to remain home and for those students who may be unable to attend due to Covid related quarantine situations. Following health and safety protocols, including masking and physical distancing, will continue to be a top priority.

Regarding the return to full-time in person learning, President/Principal, Mr. Peter Shaughnessy, commented, “It was so great to see our students return full time. Monday felt like the start of a new year in many ways, full of excitement and optimism! I am very confident in our return because of the way in which our school community has navigated this pandemic thus far. Our parents, students, faculty, and staff have shown tremendous responsibility and care for one another in order to allow the learning process to serve our students and allow them to flourish. The hybrid model served us well during this, but the time and conditions were right for our return to full-time in-person learning.”

Faculty and staff are thrilled to once again hear the sound of student voices filling classrooms and hallways. Math teacher Tim Morris summed up the feeling well, “I could not be happier to have our students back in the building. The evening before they all returned, I had trouble sleeping just like I always do the night before the first day of school. It was so exciting to hear the voices in the hallways, hear the laughter and joy in their voices when they saw their friends, and be able to watch in person while they learned their lessons for the day. The students are the reason we exist, and there is no substitute for the human interaction that takes place in the classroom daily. I am so proud of how much we were able to accomplish this year despite challenging circumstances and look forward to making these last few months of the year as memorable and full of learning as possible”.

The school’s daily schedule was modified to accommodate three lunch periods to allow space for appropriate social distancing, and additional desks have been returned to classrooms in keeping with CDC and DESE guidelines. Seats are assigned, and each classroom teacher maintains detailed seating charts to help provide quick and accurate contact tracing if needed.

Bishop Stang is exceedingly mindful of the pandemic’s continued presence in our communities and offers gratitude to their families, students, and staff who have worked hard to remain vigilant and will continue to do so. The Bishop Stang community is grateful for this opportunity to once again continue the journey of education and growth for their students – in person, as a family, together.

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