The Landscape

It’s back to school — in April.

Today marks the deadline for most of the state’s elementary schools to return to full-time in-person learning. Last month, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education granted Education Commissioner Jeff Riley the emergency authority to determine when full or partial remote learning would no longer count for time on learning requirements in an effort to get students back into the classroom. Middle school students are scheduled to fully return at the end of the month and a full return for high school students has yet to be set. More than 70 school districts have been granted waivers to stagger implementation or to delay a return to the classroom entirely. The push to return to full in-person learning comes amid a struggle to get all teachers and school staff vaccinated and a growing body of research about mental health struggles among students and deep learning loss the last year, particularly among disadvantaged students. It also follows last week’s announcement that Commissioner Riley is proposing eliminating the MCAS exam this year for 11th grade students, effectively waiving the graduation requirement for this class next year. 

The Department of Revenue (DOR) is expected to release March’s tax receipts later today. Experts are estimating state revenues will be down $250 million from March 2020. DOR recently moved the state tax filing deadline for individuals to May 17 to align with the postponed federal deadline. 

The Joint Committee on Judiciary meets Tuesday ahead of the next Constitutional Convention to solicit public feedback on 10 proposals for legislative amendments to the constitution including: inserting gender neutral language in every instance of gendered references; allowing the governor to appoint a new lieutenant governor should a vacancy arise; and a petition prohibiting the state from using eminent domain takings. Registration to testify is required. 

The Joint Committee on Ways & Means continues to prepare for their Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) budget debate with Tuesday’s hearing focusing on Health and Human Services. Governor Baker’s FY22 budget proposes to spend $25.39 billion on related departments and services, more than three times as much as any other agency. Secretary of Health & Human Services MaryLou Sudders is expected to testify as well as officials from the Department of Children and Families, Developmental Services, Center for Health Information and Executive Office of Elder Affairs. 

The state Senate’s Special Committee on Reimagining Massachusetts: Post-Pandemic Resiliency will hold its first public meeting Tuesday to discuss the digital divide, inequities in the workforce, housing and regional matters specific to the southeastern part of the state. 

The News


GO! GO U! GO UMASS!: Set your alarms for Thursday at 9 p.m. to watch the UMass Amherst Minutemen Hockey take on the University of Duluth Bulldogs in the NCAA frozen four. If successful, the Minutemen will battle it out against the winner of St. Cloud State Huskies vs. Minnesota State Mavericks for the NCAA Championship on April 10.  

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