Testimony Focused on Observations and Insights from K-12 School Reopenings in the Commonwealth During the COVID-19 Emergency.
BOSTON – On Tuesday, October 27, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Education hosted an informational oversight hearing featuring testimony from state education officials, school superintendents, teachers, and other stakeholders from the K-12 education community. Participants were invited to offer testimony about what is working for students and what needs further attention as students continue to learn in the midst of a pandemic.
State Representative Alice Peisch and State Senator Jason Lewis, the House and Senate chairs of the Joint Committee on Education, posed a variety of questions to the witnesses, many on behalf of committee members. The hearing covered a wide variety of topics including COVID-19 protocols in K-12 institutions, school instructional models and return-to-school plans, support for vulnerable student populations, technology limitations and supply chain issues, and the state’s standardized assessment system.
“There is no doubt that students, parents, faculty and staff are facing many challenges as they navigate the realities of education in the middle of a pandemic,” said Representative Alice Peisch, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Education Committee. “The Legislature is closely monitoring the changing education landscape and we are committed to supporting our students and districts to ensure that every child receives the highest quality education possible, especially the students in the highest risk environments. The hearing provided invaluable information about what is currently working in schools and areas that need further attention as we move forward in the academic year. I’d like to thank the statewide and district-level education leaders who took the time out of their busy days to testify, as well as the members of the public who continue to submit helpful written testimony to the Committee.”
“We must do everything possible to support the academic and social-emotional needs of all of our students during this crisis. There is a significant risk that the pandemic will exacerbate opportunity and equity gaps that existed prior to the pandemic and further harm our most disadvantaged students,” said Senator Jason Lewis, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education. “I also want to acknowledge the extraordinary effort and hard work from superintendents, principals, teachers, school nurses and other staff, students, parents, school committee members, and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. I’m sure for most people involved in K-12 education this has been the most difficult, uncertain, and stressful period in their entire careers.”
The committee heard invited testimony from the following individuals:
- Secretary Jim Peyser, Executive Office of Education
- Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
- Tom Scott, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents
- Glenn Koocher, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Associaiton of School Committees
- Superintendent Tim Piwowar, Billerica Public Schools
- Principal David Marble, Kennedy Elementary School in Billerica
- Superintendent Dan Warwick, Springfield Public Schools
- Principal Siobhan Conz, White St. School in Springfield
- Kaitlin Hogue, Teacher, White St. School in Springfield
- Superintendent Annie McKenzie, Hadley Public Schools
- Paul Phifer, Parent of Hadley Public Schools and Amherst Regional Public Schools Students, Vice-Chair of Hadley School Committee
- Tracy Fuller, Regional Executive Director, YMCA North Shore
The recorded hearing is available to stream on www.malegislature.gov on the “Hearings & Events” page. The Joint Committee on Education will accept written testimony as part of this hearing until 5:00PM on Friday, October 30. Testimony should be submitted by email to Alice.Peisch@mahouse.gov and Jason.Lewis@masenate.gov.