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Office of Educator Licensure

Additional Flexibility for Educator Licensure and Staffing for the 2020-21 School Year

In order to support educators and school districts as they work to staff learning environments for the 2020-21 academic year, DESE has made the following policy updates:

  1. Increase in the time allowed to be teaching "out of field." Under an emergency regulation, licensed educators can teach up to 50 percent of their time outside of their license area (up from 20 percent), except in a role requiring a Special Education, School Nurse, or English as a Second Language license.

  2. Increase in the length of time an individual can be considered a long-term substitute. Under an emergency regulation, individuals who hold a bachelor's degree can work in a teaching assignment as a long-term substitute for up to the full school year (increased from 90 days), except in a role requiring a Special Education or English as a Second Language license.

  3. Consider individuals assigned as co-teacher to a class/course as "in-field" as long as the other co-teacher is appropriately licensed. The expectation in this situation is that the appropriately licensed educator is actively engaged in planning, implementation, and assessment.

  4. Additional flexibility with hardship waivers. If a district determines that experience with the district's remote learning implementation in 2019-20 is a necessary qualification for a specific position during the 2020-21 school year, DESE will consider waiver applications with only an internal posting rather than an external posting. The district must submit the typical evidence for a waiver along with a statement regarding how the individual's experience with remote learning in 2019-20 will be vital in 2020-21. The district must also indicate what the individual's role was in 2019-20.

Please note that the above emergency regulations and policy changes for the 2020-21 school year are in addition to existing modifications, including: the Emergency License, extending expiring licenses until 90 days after the end of the state of emergency, and extending the time period that a retired educator may work before needing a critical shortage waiver.

As a reminder, DESE encourages districts to work with educator preparation partners to leverage student teachers Download PDF Document and keep in mind the practicum flexibilities Download PDF Document that DESE has granted this year.

In all cases, DESE continues to encourage district leaders to assess the assignment patterns that have contributed to persistent equity gaps for students of color, economically disadvantaged students, English learners, and students with disabilities. The updated Student Learning Experience report (SE622 and SE321 in Edwin) can help. Anyone who would like support using the report can email

Last Updated: September 9, 2020

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

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TTY: (800) 439-2370


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