AMESBURY — State officials shut down schools until April 7, but the city's superintendent isn't sure if that is the day classes will be back in session.
"At this point, it is really still the status quo," said Superintendent Jared Fulgoni. "I'm not optimistic that we are going to see a return anytime soon."
Fulgoni said he and fellow superintendents in the Newburyport, Triton Regional and Pentucket Regional school districts took part in a conference call soon after Gov. Charlie Baker issued an order Monday morning closing all nonessential businesses in the state until April 7.
"As a group, we really try to work with each other and brainstorm within the different districts to try to interpret what is coming out of the (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) so that we can all move forward in sync with one another," Fulgoni said.
If the state advises public schools to open as planned on April 7, local districts will continue to advise teachers to provide supplemental materials to students until then, he said.
"We will try to hold them at where they are in terms of the curriculum," Fulgoni said. "If we end up with an extended closure period for another say, three weeks or even for the rest of the year, then we are going to talk about how we begin to really move the curriculum forward. Right now, the curriculum isn't moving forward. Everyone is just kind of holding still and trying to keep their kids' heads above water."
Fulgoni also said parents who have questions about school curriculum should direct them to their child's teachers, who are required to remain in contact with their students.
"The teachers are still responsible and there is still an expectation that they remain in communication with their students," Fulgoni said. "The teachers union has been really helpful and cooperative, and has said they are still there to support the students. Some of the teachers are setting up Google Classrooms and some have group emails. They are going back and forth with students."
Triton Regional School District Superintendent Brian Forget said teachers in his district are required to hold “office hours" for at least four hours a day and must post enrichment and extension activities as well.
He said many classes are also meeting online.
If schools remain closed after April 7, area educators will need to begin teaching new content and information, according to Fulgoni.
"It is so arbitrary right now because of the dates," he said. "It is really completely determined by what the virus does. If we really ‘flatten the curve’ like everyone is talking about, then we certainly might look at coming back. But, the governor essentially closed the state today and sent all nonessential employees home.”
Both the Amesbury and Triton school districts have continued to offer free school lunches and breakfasts to students who need them and will continue to do so, according to both superintendents
Food service workers remain on the job preparing school breakfasts and lunches and van drivers are delivering the meals, according to Fulgoni.
"Even though they are technically not coming into work, everyone is doing their part," he said.
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.