Senate Bill Directs Waiver Of MCAS Requirements

State Education Commissioner Jeff Riley would be required to waive MCAS requirements for the current academic year, under COVID-19 legislation that could emerge for a vote in the Senate on Thursday.

The directive is included in a bill that appeared to be moving through the Senate Ways and Means Committee overnight. The bill also contains measures aimed at giving the MBTA relief from budgetary deadlines and enabling applicants for housing assistance to obtain benefits without in-person verification.

According to a summary of the Senate bill, it also permits the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to modify or waive high school graduation competency requirements to address the disruptions caused by the outbreak of COVID-19 - schools in Massachusetts remain closed following orders last month.

The bill also permits the department to certify a one-twelfth budget for school district operations starting on July 1, 2020, and for subsequent months, in case a vote on approval of a district budget is delayed beyond June 30 due to the virus outbreak.

At the MBTA, the bill would give the authority's board until May 15, rather than March 15, to approve a preliminary budget, and give the T until June 15 to submit a final budget to its advisory board, rather than April 15.

With most lawmakers working from home, a skeleton crew has kept some bills moving on Beacon Hill, where the House and Senate have had trouble coming to an agreement on legislation to safeguard renters and homeowners from evictions and foreclosures during the ongoing state of emergency. During informal sessions where there is no quorum present, lawmakers representing both major parties - Democrats and Republicans - must all agree on bills in order to advance them.

The House and Senate, which last met on Monday, both plan to gavel in sessions Thursday at 11 a.m.


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