School districts in Massachusetts have new marching orders from the state: they will have to start educating students with disabilities remotely as soon as possible.

In a remote meeting Thursday morning, Russell Johnston — director of special education at the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education — told nearly 1,000 administrators, educators and advocates that “we’ve got to get our wheels turning” in offering those students the “free appropriate public education” to which they’re entitled under state and federal law.

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