By Bob Katzen

The House and Senate approved and the governor signed into law a proposal that would allow changes to the state’s high school standardized testing requirements. The bill would allow Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley to authorize changes to the state’s high school standardized testing requirements, including suspending the MCAS test. The bill ensures that if a senior is required to pass the MCAS to graduate, he or she will be given a time other than this spring to take the exam.

The measure allows school districts who cannot adopt a budget by June 30, 2020 because of the pandemic to approve monthly budgets. It also prohibits a city or town from terminating any resident’s essential services including water, trash collection or electricity; or for nonpayment of taxes or fees if the nonpayment resulted from a demonstrated inability to pay due to circumstances related to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Other provisions include moving the MBTA board’s budget deadline from March 15 to May 15 to give the board more time to meet budgetary deadlines; giving the authority’s board until May 15, rather than March 15, to approve a preliminary budget; giving the T until June 15, rather than April 15 to submit a final budget to its advisory board; and allowing applicants for housing assistance to obtain benefits without doing it in-person.

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