Mass. education commissioner wins authority to force school districts to bring students back to classrooms full-time

James Vaznis and Felicia Gans:

The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted on Friday to give Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley the power to force districts to bring students back to the classrooms full-time, a move that aims to put student learning and wellbeing back on track after a year of epic disruptions.

The return of students to five days a week of in-person learning will begin April 5, with students in pre-kindergarten through grade 5. Middle school students will likely follow sometime after that. It remains unclear if high schools will be forced to reopen full time before the school year ends.

“Now is the time to begin moving children back to school more robustly,” Riley said before the vote, noting that the proposal had broad support in the medical community.

The 8 to 3 vote followed passionate public testimony about whether the state was usurping local control — or whether, as others argued, state officials needed to intervene to address the deteriorating mental health of students and significant learning losses.

Board members asked a panel of medical experts a range of questions, including about the safety risks variants presented in school settings and the capacity of schools to address mental health issues.

In the end, board members said they felt a duty to step in.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 


The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.