FAQ

Click on the links below for the questions specific to:


School Year Calendar 


Q. How will the days of this school closure count against school days?

A. Lawrence Public Schools will be in school through Monday, June 22, 2020 which is our regularly scheduled 185th day (including five “snow days”). This is the last day we will be accountable for in terms of the state’s mandated time on learning. However, as this unprecedented situation continues we will continue to have discussions with all stakeholders about what is in the best interest of students.

Q. Currently the schools are closed until May 4, 2020 . Will this be extended? How will we be notified?

A. The Lawrence Public Schools will continue to monitor this fluid situation and will make the best determinations in the best interest of the students and staff. Information will continue to be provided via Blackboard Connect, on our website, on Facebook, via @LPS_Education on Twitter, and on all major news outlets.

Q. What will happen to April vacation (April 20-24)?

A. The extended closure covers the time period that would have been April vacation week. Since the district will be closed, Acceleration Academies will also be cancelled.

Q. Will there be access to any school buildings during the closure?

A. At this time the following schools are partially open for the purposes of free meal distribution, nursing and counseling support: Arlington, Guilmette, Parthum, Wetherbee and Lawrence High School. Otherwise, all school buildings are closed.

Q. How will the school community provide information about our readiness to reopen schools?

A. The district will continue to be in close contact with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and we will act in concert with the Governor’s guidance. We are also in regular contact with neighboring school districts to ensure a regional response with regard to readiness. LPS will continue to use current communication channels, including the website, automated phone calls, social media and more to share updates. 

Q. Are food services available for students that qualify for free and reduced lunch?

A. During the closure, five school locations are open from 11:00am to 1:00pm, Monday through Friday for children of all ages to receive free breakfast and lunch meals. These schools are: Arlington, Guilmette, Parthum, Wetherbee and Lawrence High School. Students do not need to be present; one family member may pick up meals for all the students in their family .

Please see the “Local Resources” section of this FAQ for additional meal opportunities available in the Lawrence community.

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Student Learning

Q. Are the days during the closure counted as “school days?”

A. No. These are non-school days. These days will essentially be considered a seven week school closing period (March 15 – May 1). Although we aim to provide resources to support academic enrichment at home and online, there will not be a replication of the school day. It is important to note that the school year will not extend beyond the 185th day (June 22nd)

Q. Are there expectations around Distance and Online Learning Expectations for Students or Teachers?

A. Given the extended closure, the district is revisiting how we can best support continued learning from home. We will have clearer guidance on this topic in the week ahead. For now, these days remain non-school days in which we are only providing opportunities for learning. This would be similar to completing enrichment activities, reading lists, math packets, online practice, etc.

There is no expectation for students to complete assignments that are due to be graded and teachers should not be assigning new work or expecting students to submit work to be graded.

Educators may voluntarily elect to contact their students to encourage opportunities for learning. Communication can take many forms, including, but not limited to, phone, text, email or by using an App, such as Remind, DoJo, What’sApp and others. 

These experiences are not mandatory and are not considered instruction. For all students K-12, there will be no assignments or additional learning provided by the district or teachers.

Q. Given the many online resources available for learning, are their plans to support families who do not have access to technology or the internet? 

A. On March 24 through March 26, LPS is distributing Chromebooks and iPads to support keeping families and schools connected. These devices are one per family, previously used in classrooms, and should be wiped down at home. These devices are families to keep; however, please note that LPS cannot fix or replace distributed devices.

Families who do not have internet access at home can learn more about Comcast’s free 60 day offer. Note, if you do not wish to continue after the free 60 days, you do need to actively cancel your subscription.

Q. What resources are available for parents and students to enrich learning during this period of closure?

A. LPS has created a new site to help families and students continue to learn from home: LPS Learning at Home 

Q. What additional resources are available to support families with students who have Individual Education Plans?

A. Please visit the Special Education section of this FAQ for lots of helpful resources, recommendations and guidance.

Q. Given this closure, what happens with MCAS testing for my 10th grader?

A. At this time we will not be in school during the previously scheduled MCAS window for 10th graders, so this will be postponed. We expect to hear more from DESE about this and changes to testing dates for grades 3--8 in the near future.

Q. What if I am scheduled to take the SAT and the school/testing center is closed?

A. The College Board has posted information on the college board website about changes in the SAT testing process.

Q. Has the schedule for AP testing changed?

A. Information about possible changes to the schedule of the AP exams can be found at the college board website.

Q. Lawrence High School is currently not in session until May 4 , what does this mean for students enrolled in the Early College Program?

A. Students in the Early College Program are still expected to participate in their college classes. Merrimack College classes will resume virtually on Monday, March 23rd  and Northern Essex Community College classes will resume remotely on Monday, March 30th.

Q. How will students know what their Early College professors are planning to do for online learning?

A. Students must check their NECC or Merrimack email regularly.  The college email is accessible from any device (phone, tablet, or computer) by going to www.necc.mass.edu or www.merrimack.edu, which have direct links to email.

Q. What should students do if they have trouble with accessing or submitting assignments (ex: blackboard)?

A. NECC students can email both [email protected], [email protected], and the professor. Identify themselves as an EC student, provide student ID number, course name, professor’s name, and explain the problem. Merrimack students can email [email protected] and the course professors.  

Q. What should students do if they have trouble with any technology being used for online learning?

A.  NECC students should email [email protected] , their professor, and the LHS Early College staff at [email protected] & [email protected]  (or via remind app). Merrimack students should email [email protected], their professor, and LHS Early College staff.

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Special Education

Q.  During the period of time our district is closed related to COVID-19, must the district provide special education services to students with disabilities?

A. Updated Guidance provided by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is reflected in a new LPS letter to families (Spanish) and the LPS Special Education Remote Learning Plan for Educators and Families during School Closure due to the Novel Coronavirus (Spanish). This information will also be mailed to all families of students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs).

In addition, Lawrence Public Schools is committed to providing resources families may access at home during the closure period. Please see Student Learning above for more information.

Q. My child is on an IEP or 504 Plan, and I am concerned about the implications of the closure on my child’s educational progress.

A. Upon the conclusion of the closure, and the re-opening of the district, IEP teams will be available to convene to determine what type of impact the closure had on your child’s educational progress, and make individualized team based decisions as needed.  

Q. My child’s IEP Team Meeting is scheduled during the closure.  What can I expect?

A. Evaluation Team Facilitators will be reaching out to families who have IEP meetings scheduled during the closure period. With parent/guardian permission, facilitators will schedule a “virtual” meeting by sending a link that may be accessed on a smartphone or computer with audio and microphone.  Parents/Guardians may also dial in for audio only. 

Q. My child is on an IEP, and attends an out of district placement.  What are the implications of Lawrence Public School’s closure on my child attending the out of district placement?

A. Lawrence Public School’s closure should not have any impact on your child attending the out of district placement.  As information is changing daily, please communicate directly with the outplacement school for any updates on their closures.  As of this correspondence, our transportation vendor has confirmed they will continue to transport our students to outplacements that remain open. Questions and Answers on Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak

Q. My child is on an IEP and receives “services only” (i.e. speech/physical therapy/occupational therapy).  Will my child receive these services during the closure?

A. Services will not be provided during the closure, consistent with how this is handled on snow days.

Q. Will my child’s special education liaison, related service provider, and elementary/secondary coordinators be available if I have a question during this closure?

A. Yes, Special Education Directors are available to assist families with specific questions as needed.  A link to a directory of Special Education Director email and phone numbers is provided on this special education directory list.  Special Education Directors will provide access to Evaluation Team Facilitators, Teachers, and Related Service Providers as needed.  

Q. I made a request of the district to provide a Special Education Evaluation on or after March 13th.  What should I expect?

A. Any timelines associated with evaluation requests received on March 13th or during the closure, will be processed using day one of the timeline as the date the district re-opens.  For example, if the district re-opens on April 7th, that would count as day one associated with timelines for an evaluation request.

Q. I am looking for general tips on how to support my child during this closure.

A. Please see the section above on Student Learning.  In addition, we are sharing resources that New York City published for Specialized Instruction and Student Supports.  Please visit the resources diverse learning for special populations

Q. Are there any resources or social stories for children and adolescents?

A. The Autism Educator shared this corona virus social story available for download.

Guidance from the National Association of School Psychologists along with the National Association of School Nurses:
talking to children about corona virus

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School Activities, Events, and Athletics

Q. Are there any athletic or club activities or events happening during this period of closure?

A. No. To support social distancing, all school-related events and activities are canceled during this period.

Q. Are Spring Sports delayed?

A. Yes. The MIAA Board of Directors voted on March 16, 2020, to amend the start of the 2020 spring sports season in light of recent mandates from Governor Baker and recommendations from governing health agencies. The updated start date for the 2020 spring season is currently April 27, 2020; however, in light of extended school closure, the MIAA has scheduled a March 30 meeting to discuss possible changes to the plan.

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COVID-19 Guidance, Resources and Support

Q. Should everyone, including children, be practicing social distancing?

A. Yes. Individuals of all ages, including students, should be practicing social distancing. Everyone can play a role in keeping our community safe. Carefully consider the necessity of being together.  This is not a vacation; it is an extreme measure taken to allow for physical distancing so the virus is not spread.  Not being exposed to the virus is the best way not to get sick or to transmit it to others.  Please refer to this CDC webpage for other recommendations to prevent illness:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education writes:
"During this period, it is critical that students and their families, as well as school staff, stay home as much as possible. If you leave your home, it is essential to strictly follow social distancing guidelines by avoiding crowds, canceling social gatherings, and maintaining a safe separation of at least six (6) feet from others. Restricting access to school buildings will have little impact on public health if these best practices are not followed in good faith."

Q. What about using school playgrounds? What about playdates?

A. Fresh air and outdoor time is good for everyone; however, the social distancing guidance of maintaining a safe separation of at least six (6) feet remains critical. Use of playground equipment is at your own risk and is discouraged, given the potential for germs to remain for several hours on hard surfaces. Going for walks, hikes and bike rides, as well as playing in one’s own yard are encouraged, provided you maintain social distancing from non-family members. Articles on social distancing wellness further suggest avoiding playdates all together, following best practices without alarming children. 

Q. Are there other recommendations for staying active while we are mostly homebound? 

A. Check out OpenPhysEd.org which has lots of tips on and free activities you can do at home. Here also is an activity packet from the same resource.

  • Play at Home Webpage: A library of videos and other resources featuring games and activities families can play at home. Each meeting the CDC requirements of social distancing and limited equipment. All available free on the Play at Home Webpage
  • Play at Home Playbook: This game guide has a variety of games and activities families can do in their own homes, with little to no equipment necessary. Check out Play at Home Playbook.
  • Live Virtual Recess: A Playworks Coach leading a morning warm-up, a midday game, and an afternoon cooldown each day. Anyone can tune into Playworks Facebook Live Monday- Friday at 12am, 2pm, and 4pm and play along.
     

Q. What are other recommendations for ways to spend time at home learning and playing as a family?

A. This is a good time to: 

  • Read books for pleasure
  • Revisit board games
  • Cook together 
  • Do arts and crafts 
  • Learn a new skill or take up a new hobby 

If you are in a mood for exploring, there are also many free virtual field trip sites to museums, zoos, and historical landmarks. See the list below for some ideas:

Q. What resources are available for parents coping with stress during this time? 

A. The CDC has provided the following resources for parents coping with stress. 
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-

Here are additional hotlines: 

  • The Parental Stress Line - “parents helping parents” – available 24/7 in all languages: 1-800-632-8188
  • SafeLink - Massachusetts statewide domestic violence support and resources: 
  • 24/7 helpline: 877-785-2020
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  1-800-273-8255 with chat available here.  
  • The Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories. Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
     

Q. Is there any assistance available for families in need to purchase groceries?

A. As we learn about opportunities, we will post them below:

  • Current SNAP recipients may be eligible to receive a $50 voucher to support additional food purchases, via a campaign set up by Expensify.org. Information on their program may be found at: https://www.expensify.org/hunger
  • Please also see Community Resources for information on Food Pantries. 
     

Q: Where can I turn for help on if I quality for unemployment or how to file? 

A The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) will be hosting daily, virtual town hall meetings where they will take people through a step by step process of achieving a successful unemployment claim and taking questions from claimants across the Commonwealth.  There will also be a virtual meeting in Spanish. Learn more at: https://www.mass.gov/forms/massachusetts-department-of-unemployment-assistance-dua-virtual-town-halls

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Community Resources 

Q. How do I learn about Covid-19 Screening in our community? 

A Lawrence General Hospital has established a Community Screening Line. You can obtain an assessment of your COVID-19 risk, possible need for testing, and recommendations for next steps. 978-946-8409

Q. Is there a way to do remote visits for medical guidance?

A. Greater Lawrence Family Health Center has set up the option for telephonic visits with patients. Call their main number: 978-686-0090

Q. How do I contact the Lawrence Board of Health?

A. Open Monday - Friday, 8:00am to 6:00pm
Contact: 978-620-3260

Q. Where should I go for updates from the City of Lawrence?

A. The city’s website is consistently updated with the latest information here.

Q. Are there additional sources for meals or groceries in the City of Lawrence?

A. As we identify resources we will add them here:

  • Lazarus House Ministries Soup Kitchen is open for “To Go” options during regular hours Monday - Friday, Breakfast (8:30am - 9:30am) and Lunch (11:30am - 1pm).  While the public is not allowed in the building, “To Go” food will be handed out.   At this time, the Food Pantry remains open on Wednesdays from 9:30am until at least 1pm or 2pm; lunch bags will also be distributed here.  No other guests services will be provided through the end of March or until further notice.   
  • Neighbors in Need has 13 Food Pantries strategically located in different neighborhoods, providing pre-bagged food to most Lawrence residents within walking distance of their homes. For more information, locations, and hours of operations please visit http://needfood.org/programs/food-pantries or call 978-685-8321.
  • Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence is offering “To-Go” Dinners for students of all ages, Monday-Friday, 4:30-6:00pm, at 136 Water Street. For questions, call: 978-683-2747.
  • Groundwork Lawrence has announced plans for a virtual farmers’ market: https://www.groundworklawrence.org/farmersmarket
     

Q. What resources exist for homeless students and families during this period? 

A. Guidance from DESE’s Homeless Education Coordinator includes:   

  • While local offices are currently closed to the public, shelter applications can be done by phone by calling: 1-866-584-0653
  • Families must follow shelter quarantine/isolation rules should those go into effect.
  • Families should not be worrying about housing searches at this time.  They may still apply for housing online and work with their case managers by phone. 
  • DHCD will be encouraging housing authorities to temporarily not take action against tenants who have a family doubling up. Housing courts are temporarily suspending eviction proceedings.
     

Q: Is there a community resource that is keeping information current about supports in our community?

A: We Are Lawrence has a resource and education section for coronavirus. Resources on food pantries, soup kitchens, and more will be updated on this site:  https://www.wearelawrence.org/coronavirus

Q. Are there other recommendations for staying active while we are mostly homebound?

A.  Request a library card by emailing [email protected] or messaging us via our Facebook page.

We also subscribe to Tutor.com which can be found on our website: www.lawrencefreelibrary.org under our Online Resources page.

Live tutoring available for all subjects.

http://www.lawrencefreelibrary.org/703/Tumblebooks
Kids e-books.

https://mvlc.overdrive.com/library/kids
Adult and kids e-books and more.

First, you have to select Merrimack Valley patrons.

Then, you enter your library card number which is the barcode behind your library card.

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