BOSTON (CBS) — Massachusetts schools are getting word from the state about what they’ll need to do in order to safely reopen this fall. The memo from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is focused on “key safety supplies” and social distancing measures to keep students and staff protected against the coronavirus.

The state said it was issuing preliminary guidance now so schools can start preparing and ordering supplies. More guidance will be issued in the coming weeks.

“We are operating with the best information we have as of early June about how to maintain the health and safety of our students and staff in any in-person school programs and limit the risk of COVID-19 transmission,” Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley writes in a document sent to superintendents Friday.

Temperature checks won’t happen because of the “significant” number of false positives and negatives, but all students and staff will be required to wear masks.

“Parents will be responsible for providing students with face coverings or masks,” the guidance states. “Schools must have backup disposable masks for students who need them.”

Teachers and staff can wear their own masks or one provided by their school. It’s also recommended that schools stock up on face shields and other equipment for staff like nurses, custodians and special education teachers who may have close contact with students.

Schools will have to redesign classroom spaces with the goal of “maintaining 6 feet of separation at all times.” Desks will be required to be spaced at least 6 feet apart and this distance must be maintained when students are entering or exiting the building.

Social distancing “will require significantly smaller class sizes,” the document states.

“Where feasible, programs should isolate individual groups of students with one consistently assigned teacher, and groups should not mix with other students or staff,” the guidance says. “At this time, group sizes are restricted to a maximum of 10 students, with a maximum of 12 individuals, including students and staff, in each room.

The guidance also calls for “frequent hand washing and hand sanitizing.” Students and staff must stay home if they are feeling sick. And for those who become ill during the school day, schools must provide a special isolation room for those with coronavirus symptoms that is separate from the nurse’s office.

The document also provides information to schools about how much hand sanitizer, masks and other equipment they’ll need to order. Click here to read more.

Massachusetts colleges have released their own proposal to “carefully repopulate” campuses this fall.

Comments (21)
  1. Remember when says:

    I think in couple of weeks, there will be a better picture, either way as to where this C19 is going. 10-12 per class will be a logistical nightmare and financial budget buster.

  2. dronetek says:

    Completely and utterly absurd.

  3. Jimbo says:

    LOL, there is 0% chance this plan will happen. They could double the number of schools in this state and they still wouldn’t have enough room. This is stuffed shirts with no actual idea what happens day to day in a school trying to pretend they are doing something productive. It’s idiotic.

  4. tony says:

    This is so sad, so myopic, so harmful to our kids education! This CAN’T WORK!!!!! Why are our leaders so devoid of leadership and rational thought.

  5. Jeff Jones says:

    Cities and towns will have to break classes up to morning and evenings or possibly alternating weeks where kids will have one week on campus and one week remote learning.

  6. Katie says:

    LOL the average class size in Massachusetts is 32. We would need literally triple the number of schools, teachers, and ancillary professionals (like custodians, food service workers, etc) to make this work. Nevermind the laughable idea that masks will be provided…! We buy our own classroom supplies, just add masks to the list.

  7. LS says:

    Even breaking up classes, classes are already more than 20 each. So alternating weeks they would still be too big! If they raise groups to 12 then it will be feasible. The number 10 makes it impossible.

  8. Jay says:

    This is unsurprising and idiotic. These ‘leaders’ that love to say the word ‘Science’ at every press conference are not using the scientific data!! Look at the numbers per age group. We need commonsense ideas, not patronizing overreach! Start working with us instead of lecturing us.

  9. Steve says:

    NOPE. If they are going to be forced to wear masks then the full amount of students should be allowed. Schools and working parents can’t pull this off. One week on, one week off or half days, etc are not viable options. School is childcare too, it will be hard enough with no after school programs likely to open under these restrictions.

  10. Lari says:

    Absolutely ridiculous and NOT BASED ON THE SCIENCE!!! Stop punishing kids for a virus that is less fatal than the regular flu for them AND since they are not spreaders please do not use “but the teachers” as your next excuse. Start reading the actual data and LEAD!!!

  11. Tim says:

    Completely agree with everyone. First, there is no physical way to do this. Two, if you tried to split the day in half, the teachers union wouldn’t allow it. So Zero chance this could happen. If they are wearing masks, why do they need to be 6 feet apart? The rioters haven’t been 6 feet apart, and the scientists and leaders weren’t jumping up and down? If you have a mask, and everyone hand sanitizes before going into a room, the odds are slim and none of spreading it. Mr scientist, How many kids under 18 got covid, look at your damn data and use common sense.

  12. Josie Albert says:

    Let’s take a look at how other countries are handling this and learn from it!

  13. Aluniag says:

    Idiotic idea! Everything should be back to normal and no masks for the kids. It’s hard to breath in those things for 20 min, let alone all day long for hours on end. We need germs to build up our immunity to what’s around us! This virus is not going away and it’s here to stay just like the flu, our bodies need to be exposed to it and deal with it. And as another poster said the virus is less fatal than regular flu for most, especially kids. And how are parents supposed to work? Open up the state and let’s move on and just figure out how to truly protect the most vulnerable.

  14. David says:

    what about school bus? what’s the purpose of social distancing if you end putting kids in enclosed small space? are they going to put 10 students per bus too? will be logistics nightmare.

    what about town/city budget? some towns are already struggling and cutting down staff/school. if they want to keep class size 10, they need to double/triple everything.

  15. Laura Baez says:

    These requirements are absolutely ludicrous and put children at risk of Carbon Dioxide Poisoning. People require Oxygen to function, once the Carbon Dioxide builds up in the system, it causes many physiological problems. Some children have already died in other countries due to these ridiculous rules.

    Everyone, just take your child out of the school system. Homeschool for a year or until everything goes back to normal. The state will be forced to recall these mandates for fear of losing public government funds!

  16. Frank DeLorey says:

    This article is incorrect. These rules are for Summer programs not for the next school year. The Superintendent in our town sent out a letter last night clarifying this. The fall rules have not been completed.

  17. Carol says:

    Is this plan for a reality show? Whoever dreamed this up has never been a professional educator!. No teachers should be cleaning or sanitizing after students or buying cleaning materials, sanitizer for hands or masks used in schools. Absolutely a dreadful plan. And so, where is the money and where are the additional teachers to be found???

  18. Heather says:

    I really need to understand how youth sports – contact sports – can start in phase 3, but these could potentially be the requirements for school to start in the Fall? So, it is OK for basketball, lacrosse, football, and soccer to start, but kids will need to social distance at school? I think the state needs to better align on what the real requirements will be for both school and youth sports because these are the complete opposite! Please ask this question in the next press conference!

  19. Daniella Garran says:

    Clearly made by politicians and not by educators. BTW, there was ONLY ONE TEACHER on this committee. It’s TOTALLY impractical and unrealistic.

  20. Anita Sisk says:

    NOTE: Any information here is what they released for SUMMER SCHOOL. They have not yet released the info for the fall. (That doesn’t mean that it will be any different, of course, but it might be!)

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