Update from the Superintendent: March 30, 2020

Dear CPS Community -

I hope that this message finds you taking good care of yourself during this unprecedented time. I am writing to share a few key updates related to our school closures, including information about upcoming School Committee meetings.

  1. State Education Department Message to Families: Today, March 30, Massachusetts Commissioner of K-12 Education Jeff Riley released a letter for parents and guardians about school closures. You can read the full message in English or Spanish. Here are some highlights on what this message means for CPS:

    • Last day of school: The official last day of school will be June 23 for CPS. This reflects guidance from the state that school closures will not result in an extension of the normal school year. We will share any updates on summer learning opportunities as the season approaches.

    • MCAS: MCAS testing typically takes place during April and May - including during weeks when school buildings will be closed. Federal education authorities have granted state education officials permission to explore options related to this requirement including addressing current requirements for high school graduation.

    • Special education: As with general education expectations, special education services will need to adapt to current conditions. Parents and caregivers of children with IEPs should expect check-in’s with members of their child’s special education team to help students access distance learning opportunities. This can take place without formal IEP meetings. It will make more sense to revisit IEP services once schools are functioning at normal levels. More detailed updates from OSS are available here

  2. Virtual School Committee Meetings: Tomorrow evening, the Cambridge School Committee will be holding a virtual meeting for the purpose of discussing COVID-19 preparedness and response. This meeting will not include opportunities for public comment, but will be recorded and streamed live via our website. More information can be found on the School Committee meeting site.

  3. CPS Budget Process: With all that has been going on to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, you may have missed my presentation (video and slides) of my proposed FY21 budget to the Cambridge School Committee on March 12. In my presentation, I expressed my belief that budgets must reflect our values, our priorities, and our understanding of student needs.

    We all know that the unprecedented impact of COVID-19, widespread closures, and social distancing have significant and important impacts on student, family, and staff needs now, and in the future. It is likely that the FY21 Budget will evolve over the course of the coming weeks in response to these new challenges. The next steps in the budget process are as follows:
  • Tomorrow, March 31 at 5PM: Mayor Siddiqui has called a Special Meeting for the purpose of discussing COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness updates.

  • Tomorrow, March 31 at 6PM: School Committee Budget Workshop (workshops do not include public comment). Among the agenda items are a revised timeline/process for the CPS budget that reflects the changed timetable for the City of Cambridge budget process.

  • Tuesday, April 7 at 6PM: Virtual Public Hearing on the FY21 Budget. Instructions for making public comment will be posted soon on the School Committee Meetings site

  • Please submit any questions you have about the FY21 Budget process through this form.

Thank you once again for the messages of patience and support during this difficult time.

Sincerely,

Kenneth N. Salim, Ed.D.
Superintendent

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