WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) – With the statewide school mask mandate ending in less than two weeks and supply chain issues affecting school sports right now, we got new information that came out in a few meetings on Tuesday.
Both DESE and MIAA held meetings on Tuesday to address COVID-related issues and how to catch up with the challenges students and student-athletes have faced over the past two years.
“This Commonwealth faces so many challenges in the current environment,” said Dr. Dana Mohler-Faria, Chair of the Skills Determination Committee. “Our future really depends on the preparation of our students.”
At a meeting of the Department of Primary and Secondary Education on Tuesday, an effort was made to raise academic standards for the class of 2026.
“We believe raising CD is important,” Dr. Mohler-Faria said.
A committee formed over the past two years and made up of 18 educators, administrators and representatives who recommended alternative options for students who were falling behind in high school English and math, including due to the pandemic.
DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley discussed COVID-19-related topics, including updates to home testing kits for more than half a million students and staff in the state of the Bay.
“People have asked, well, what happens to staff members who don’t participate in this program? Will they be able to take a test during the February and April holidays? And we’re working on doing just that right now,” Riley said.
Meanwhile, for student athletes, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association hosted a tennis meeting to address supply issues leading into the spring season.
“There’s a shortage of tennis balls, there’s a shortage of tennis racquets,” one member said at Tuesday’s meeting.
This was echoed by MIAA’s executive director at a board meeting held last week.
“There are some sports and some places where the trophies just aren’t available yet, or there are supply chain issues,” said Dr Robert Baldwin.
We wanted to know how these issues might affect your child this spring, so we asked a West Springfield sporting goods store.
“I know it’s cold outside and you don’t think about things like that, but spring is right around the corner,” said Chad Andre, owner of Andre’s Westside Sports Shop. “You don’t want to wait, especially these days.”
Andre told Western Mass News it’s been a constant struggle to get clothes he customizes for local sports teams.
“It’s probably going to take three or four weeks to get the product delivered because even shipping is a little slower than normal now, and for us to turn around, decorate it, three weeks to a month,” Andre explained.
This also applies to durable goods, which are shipped to local schools.
“Basically, for the basketballs, I was told that I would not receive them at all this winter,” André told us.
He added that he was doing what he could to send orders, stay flexible and recheck his inventory.
“They’re coming in from, instead of one or two warehouses, five warehouses or not at all, so when I’m checking things out, I really have to pay attention to what’s what,” Andre said.
MIAA’s Dr. Baldwin said lacrosse chest protectors were particularly hard to come by. As for Andre’s advice, order your spring sports gear now before it’s gone.
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