Westfield Schools closed for two weeks

Westfield Public Schools Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski (WNG file photo)

WESTFIELD – Westfield Public Schools Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski announced at the end of the day March 13 that Westfield Public Schools will close  March 16-27.
“We’ll revisit the situation on March 27, to determine if we’re ready to open March 30,” Czaporowski said.
The closure was not something the superintendent and his team took lightly.

“We had no choice. We had so many staff members affected by closures in other districts whose kids were home; and so many students out,” Czaporowski said.
He said he made the determination after speaking to the state and local Department of Health, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Westfield School Committee Vice-Chair Timothy O’Connor and Mayor Donald F. Humason, Jr.
The superintendent said he knows that the closure will be an inconvenience for many families. However, he said the number of calls the district received asking them to close far out-numbered the calls to remain open.
Czaporowski said beginning on Monday, March 16, the custodial staff will do a deep cleaning of all the schools. “They have all the supplies they need,” he said. Czaporowski also said there has not been a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the district.
The Central Office will remain open, and administrators and principals will begin on March 16 to develop an online learning plan going forward. Teachers will come back to school on March 23 for a previously scheduled Professional Development day, at which time the plan will be rolled out.
Czaporowski said they will be calling it online academic enrichment, because they know that all of the students’ needs will not be met.
The district is required to continue to feed students from schools that have more than 50 percent of families qualify for free or reduced lunch. Czaporowski said that includes 422 students in Franklin Avenue and Abner Gibbs elementary schools.
Beginning on Monday, Grab & Go lunches and breakfast bags for the following morning will be handed out from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at both Franklin and Abner Gibbs.
Czaporowski said the district is collaborating with the Boys & Girls Club to expand the program and provide meals for all students that need them.
Czaporowski also asked DESE Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley, who has already waived the 180-day requirement for districts in the Commonwealth, about MCAS tests going forward.
Riley told him that the standardized testing is a function of the legislature, and they are the ones that would need to pass a waiver, according to Czaporowski.
“I don’t think it would be fair to give our students the MCAS,” Czaporowski said.
Ultimately, Czaporowski said, keeping safe is what’s important.
“The safety of our students and staff is very important to us. We care about them, and want to make sure everybody is safe,” Czaporowski said.

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