Gov. Charlie Baker speaks Saturday at a field hospital set up in the Boston Convention Center. (Photo: Office of the Governor via Twitter)

Cambridge schools will close through the academic year as a response to a Covid-19 outbreak and the need for social distancing to stop its spread. A decision to close all state public and private schools was announced by Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday.

In an email sent to the school community, Superintendent Kenneth Salim said the district will continue to support students via distance learning and develop a “recovery plan to support students’ academic and social emotional needs this summer and fall.”

The district has partnered with Panorama Education to develop a short survey that will be sent to parents and caregivers to help integrate their perspectives as decisions are made.

The survey is designed to gather feedback on how families and students are affected while schools are closed during the coronavirus crisis. The questions include educational topics such as distance learning, access to technology and communications from school staff, as well as issues around housing, food and financial supports. The survey allows users to answer specific questions and add additional information by typing their concerns. It is available in English and eight other languages.

Resources for the community can be accessed via the district website’s CPS@Home section, and the administration can be contacted via email at cps@cpsd.us, Salim wrote.

In addition, School Committee subcommittees, including on on curriculum and achievement and special education and student support, have held virtual meetings to discuss how the school system can address the challenges caused by the closings.

The district closed public schools effective March 16. Baker closed all public and private schools and all nonemergency day care facilities on March 17; that three-week period was extended to eight weeks in a March 25 order that expected schools to reopen May 4 – until the Tuesday order crushed those expectations.

“The only sensible decision”

Cambridge officials didn’t offer opinions about the extended closings. But in Somerville, Mayor Joe Curtatone reacted the shutdown of his own city’s school district.

“I fully support Gov. Baker’s decision,” Curtatone said. “It is the only sensible decision as we find ourselves in the surge phase of this pandemic. We simply cannot secure public health at this time by sending thousands of students, teachers and staff back to schools in our community.”

He called it “a hard blow to students who will be missing the social interaction of school, graduations, proms, sports seasons, plays, concerts and field trips, but it is the necessary response to the gravity of the moment,” Curtatone said.

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