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. Will the closure mean an extension of the school year?

A. All LPS schools are closed through the last day of school, June 22. However, remote learning is taking place in all grades in all schools.  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. 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: Arlington,  Frost , Guilmette, Parthum 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,  Frost , Guilmette, Parthum 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.

Q. Will seniors graduate on time?

A. The last day of school for seniors will be Friday, May 29, and a virtual commencement will be held on the originally scheduled date of Friday, June 5.

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Student Learning

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

A. These are Remote Learning Days, rather than school days, meaning that school buildings will remain closed and attendance will not be taken. However, there are expectations that students participate in remote learning, via a combination of online meetings and assignments, as well as experiential or project based opportunities. 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 has updated guidance for students and teachers, which includes:

  • Educators will provide weekly remote learning plans for students, which will be posted on the school’s LPS webpage. Where possible, remote learning plans will also be incorporated in the apps the students are using, such as Google Classroom. Schools will directly communicate with families about how best to access their weekly learning plans.
    • The goal during this period of remote learning is to engage students in meaningful, productive learning for roughly half the length of a regular school day. With remote learning now extended through the end of the school year, the state’s Commissioner of Education has provided new guidance that shifts the emphasis from reinforcing concepts already taught to a focus on teaching the content standards that are most critical for student success in the next grade level.
    • The opportunities cannot and do not replicate the regular school day, but aim to foster engagement with each other and the learning material. Students will have regularly scheduled opportunities to connect with teachers and classmates.
    • Individual student work will not be graded and emphasis will be on feedback and student growth. Please see below for the LPS Grading Policy during Closure regarding how students will be graded for term.
    • Remote learning does not mean screen time only! While technology is an important aspect and video or audio calls will play a key role, learning should also continue to include hands-on and “real world” assignments or projects, physical activity and enrichment.
    • Practices will vary by grade, school, and classroom, with every attempt made to accommodate students’ respective needs. Schools and programs will contact students and families directly to share their unique or specific details.
  • Principals, teachers and support staff have regular office hours and remain available to you for questions or concerns, and will communicate these details to families and students directly. As always, do not hesitate to reach out to them.
     

Q. How will grading be handled during the closure period?

A. The following K-12 Grading During Closure ( Spanish ) document outlines grading processes, with a move to credit/no credit for this time of closure, while confirming that grading for the first two trimesters (or first three quarters, if applicable) remain final.

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 distributed 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

  • For virtual learning that your child is already using at school, please use our Single Sign-on Portal for All Students to Access Learning Apps and Sites.
    • Visit Clever here! (Instructions to Access Clever in English or Spanish)
    • Need help? Check out these online tutorials for logging-in (English) or (Spanish)
    • Please contact your school for additional or support; or send any questions or issues with log-in to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Looking to create a learning routine at home? Sample Schedule for Students 
  • Additional LPS Resources by Grade 
  • Another outstanding resource to support learning at home comes from New York City’s Department of Education, which has created a helpful list of resources, by grade level and content:  NYC LEARN AT HOME RESOURCES AND LESSONS PK-GR 12
  • pbskids.org/learn is also another great resource.
  • Storyline Online has a host of interesting and well-known folks reading books out loud for children.
  • The state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has put together a comprehensive list of resources as well
  • Looking for something more active? These online dance classes might help, or see the section below on Covid-19 Guidance, Resources and Support for more exercise tips.
  • The Lawrence Public Library (LPL) subscribes to Tutor.com.  This site offers 24/7 live tutoring for all subjects. The direct link to this resource is http://www.lawrencefreelibrary.org/702/Tutorcom.  A library card is needed to access Tutor.com.   However, students and parents can get a library card  by e-mailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by messaging the Lawrence Public Library via its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LawrenceFreeLibrary/.  Other online resources for students and families can be accessed at http://www.lawrencefreelibrary.org/274/Online-Resources.
     

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?

A. The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has announced that MCAS testing this spring for all grades has been canceled. DESE is still considering modifications or a waiver of the high school graduation requirement for current year seniors. Any update will be posted here.

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 closed for the remainder of the school year; 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, following directions provided by their respective colleges, Merrimack College and Northern Essex Community College.

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , their professor, and the LHS Early College staff at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. & This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  (or via remind app). Merrimack students should email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 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 the April 9, 2020 DESE Resource “Toolbox” for Families of Special Education Students, 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. All spring sports are cancelled in light of the extended school closure.

 


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.

A. The Community Based Services programs of Children's Friend and Family Services - are here and ready to respond to the mental health and substance use needs of our communities during this stressful time. We understand that during this time, individuals and families will continue to experience behavioral health and social service needs and may face increased distress and symptoms. 

Community-Based Services JRI continues to offer across the state are: 

  • In-Home Therapy (intensive family intervention) 
  • Outpatient therapy (individual, group, family, or couples interventions) 
  • Mentoring (individualized therapeutic interventions and life skill development/coaching) 
  • In-Home Behavioral Services & Behavior Monitoring 
  • Family Support and Training from a Family Partner 
  • Intensive Care Coordination & Wraparound Care Planning 
  • Foster Care Support & Outreach (individualized to DCF homes- DCF Referral) 
  • Long Term Supportive Services- Case Management

If you or someone you know is in need, please visit the JRI website or contact our Community-Based Services Navigator: Amy Sypher at 508-380-0273 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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

Q. If I’ve lost my job, what can I do about affordable health insurance?

A. Massachusetts residents losing their jobs and job-based health coverage can make their way into health coverage through the state’s Health Connector. Massachusetts residents can visit www.mahealthconnector.org to apply for coverage. The ConnectorCare program connects qualifying Massachusetts residents with affordable health coverage with low or $0 premiums and low co-pays and no deductibles.  This special enrollment period runs through May 25, 2020

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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. Check out this list of Lawrence resources for Grab n’ Go meals, food pantries, groceries, and SNAP benefits.

The FoodSource Hotline number is 1-800-645-8333 and is available in 160 different languages. 

  • We are open 8am-7pm, Mon-Fri and 10am-2pm on Saturdays throughout the crisis. 
  • We can also serve the hearing-impaired community through the Hotline TTY line, 1-800-377-1292.

For more information and hours, visit www.projectbread.org/gethelp

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 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.

Q. How do I learn about my Housing Rights during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Outbreak?

A. Northeast Legal Aid Flyer (Spanish)

Q. What resources are available in the community for parenting during the Covid-19 pandemic?

A. Parenting in a Pandemic

Are you struggling with home school, difficult behaviors, boredom, or are you just plain stressed out? Spend an hour with experienced child therapists who can address your concerns, answer your questions, and generally help you figure out how to parent during a pandemic.

See parenting workshop flyer (Spanish)
Register required:

Register for April 28 10:30 am in English

Register for April 29, 10 am in Spanish

Q. How do I learn about Payments for Social Security and SSI Recipients during Covid-19?

The Social Security has prepared and the IRS has provided this guide, the Economic Impact Payments for Social Security and SSI Recipients – Steps to Take and Schedule of Payments to help families with any questions or concerns they may have.

For more information please visit : Social Security

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Internet Access

Q. I don’t have internet, Can I get no-cost or low-cost internet access during the COVID-19 outbreak?

A. Comcast is offering free internet with its Xfinity hotspots for 60 days to all new families. The Internet Essentials program is normally available to all qualified, low-income households in Comcast’s service area for $9.95/month. If you do not want to continue after the free 60 days, you will need to contact the provider to cancel. Please visit www.comcast.com for more information.

Q. Are there any deal for increasing the data available to me?

A. Yes, most of the major wireless phone service providers such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, Spectrum, MetroPCS and others, are offering nationwide mobile hotspot included with selected plans. You should check with your carrier to see if your plan qualifies for this data service.

Q. What is a mobile hotspot?

A. A mobile hotspot is an ad hoc wireless access point created by a dedicated hardware device or a smartphone feature that shares the phone's cellular data with other devices such as Chromebooks, Laptops, PCs, etc. Mobile hotspots are also known as portable hotspots.

Q. How do I use a mobile hotspot to get internet on my Chromebook?

A. Once you have a mobile hotspot with your service, sharing your smart phone’s internet with your Chromebook is a simple process.

Please follow the step by step instructions below:

  1. On your smartphone, go to setting and turn on Bluetooth
  2. On your Chromebook, at the bottom right select your Wi-Fi network
  3. Under "Mobile data," select your phone
  4. When you see "Connected" under your phone’s name, your phone is sharing its data connection with your Chromebook and you are ready to go.

* To avoid your phone’s battery dies, you can plug it in via a USB cable and it will draw power from your Chromebook.

Q. I am not able to pay my phone or internet bill, will my service be shut off during the COVID-19 pandemic?

A.No, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has been working with internet and phone providers to ensure that all of our families have access during the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, you must take proactive steps with your provider. Learn more about what you need to do here:

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Revised Retention Policies for 2019-2020

Superintendent’s Statement on Promotion and Retention for School Year 2019-20

Recognizing the traumatic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on our families and students, Lawrence Public Schools has temporarily suspended its promotion and retention policies for SY2019-20. All students will be promoted to the next grade for SY20-21, ensuring they are not penalized for the lost learning and other effects – social, emotional, physical and economic – caused by this pandemic. This decision is based on feedback from multiple sessions with LPS parents, students, educators and school leaders, as well as research regarding the harmful impact of retention on students.
 
There remain questions and challenges around ensuring student readiness for the next grade, and I am confident that we will continue to develop new and necessary steps to properly support our rising students. We have begun by expanding summer programming and interventions, providing many more students with access to important summer supports and added learning time leading into the fall. I welcome the continued partnership of all our families and educators as continue to prioritize these efforts heading into the new school year and beyond.

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