New Guidance for Reopening Massachusetts Schools
Guidance has been issues by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in which Massachusetts schools this fall will be required to develop hybrid learning plans that teach students in-person and remotely on alternating schedules.
In order to reopen in a new COVID-19 cases mounted in Massachusetts, school officials will have to develop three models: one for entirely remote learning, one for a hybrid of remote and in-person instruction, and an in-person model that complies with new health and safety protocols.
Those in-person protocols will require the reconfiguration of classrooms, schedules, and other elements of the traditional school day.
- All adults and students in second grade and above will be required to wear masks or face coverings, and time for “mask breaks” will be built in throughout the day. Exceptions will be made for medical conditions and other health and safety factors, and students in kindergarten and first grade “should be encouraged” to wear masks or face shields.
- Classrooms will be re-arranged to accommodate physical distancing — the department wants schools to aim for a distance of six feet when feasible, with three feet the minimum distance allowed. There will not be a prescribed maximum on group sizes, as long as the distancing requirements are met. Schools will be asked to use libraries, auditoriums and cafeterias for additional classroom space.
Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley had released guidance earlier this month announcing that masks, smaller class sizes and frequent hand-washing would be part of a return to school.
Riley, is scheduled to join Gov. Baker and Lt. Gov. Polito at a noontime press conference along with Education Secretary James Peyser.