Westfield, Southwick to continue online learning as Baker orders K-12 schools to remain closed

GREATER WESTFIELD – Following Gov. Charlie Baker’s announcement April 21 that grade K-12 schools would remain closed through the end of the current school year, superintendents in both Westfield and Southwick Regional schools said remote learning would continue.

Within minutes of the Tuesday afternoon press conference, Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School District Superintendent Jennifer Willard called and emailed families with the news.

“Today we received confirmation from Governor Baker’s office that schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019- 2020 school year,” she told district families. “For the Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School District, it means we will remain in remote learning mode for the remainder of the school year.”

Willard took the opportunity to thank everyone working in new ways during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I want to take a moment to say ‘Thank you.’ Thank you for all you are doing to keep our community safe. Thank you for providing structure in your homes for continued learning. Thank you for supporting our teachers as they work from home to provide engaging and relevant learning opportunities for our students. Thank you for those of you who are working during the COVID- 19 pandemic to keep us safe and fed. Finally, thank you for your continued patience and understanding as we navigate this unprecedented time in history,” Willard said.

Westfield Public Schools Superintendent Stefan Czaparowski said following Baker’s press conference that he was disappointed, but it was a good decision.

“I was hopeful,” he said, “but the fact that we are still in the surge and based on those numbers . . . it’s the right decision.”

Czaparowski said he doesn’t like to think in terms of school being closed, because just the buildings are closed.

“Westfield is going to continue remote learning for the remainder of the school year,” he said. “Students are online learning, project-based learning, hands-on learning –- we are getting packets out next week for grade level work and we have a few families that still do not have access to the internet and we are working to resolve that problem.”

The state is also offering support for teachers and will issue what Czaparowski called Power Standards, which outlines what students need to advance to the next grade.

Czaparowski said special education will be affected and he and Westfield Public Schools Administrator of Special Education Martha H. von Mering are working on meeting the needs of students with Individualized Education Plans.

Baker said Tuesday that that COVID-19 is “an insidious and at times invisible virus” and keeping schools closed was not an easy decision.

“It’s the right thing to do considering the facts on the ground associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. At this point in time, there is no authoritative guidance or advisory with respect to how to operate schools safely and how to get students to and from schools safely,” Baker said. “We believe students therefore cannot safely return to school and avoid the risk of transmitting the virus to others.”


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