Today, Governor Baker’s office and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released their initial guidance about reopening schools this fall. Read the initial new guidance.
Here are some key components:
- Current medical research supports a safe in-person return to school – with preventive measures in place – as infection and transmission rates are lower for children than adults.
- Preventive measures include masks/face coverings, physical distancing, handwashing, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces
- Masks/face coverings will be required for all students in Grade 2 and above and for all adults; they are recommended for students in Grade 1 and below
- Based upon current medical research, and in conjunction with other preventive measures, a minimum physical distance of three feet has been established
We appreciate the level of thought and care that went into the development of this guidance, which is informed by the latest medical expertise. We understand this is the “Initial guidance.” There will be further guidance coming to us in July. Districts will need to develop three separate plans – one for return to full in-person instruction with safety requirements, one for full remote learning, and one for hybrid learning that combines in-person and remote learning. Based upon the current medical situation, the expectation today is that students will return to full in-person instruction in September; however, that is subject to change based upon how the medical situation develops.
The Commissioner has provided “guiderails” and it will require each school district to figure out how these will work in each school and district. Context will matter and we will continue to support and communicate with our district leaders and DESE. We are working through these issues in unprecedented times, requiring a great deal of time and planning.
It will require patience and understanding among all of us.