BOSTON (WPRI) — The original deadline for schools in Massachusetts to submit their reopening plans was on Monday, but that was pushed back to Friday to give school committees more time to meet and vote.
As of now, many districts plan on having teachers return and start the school year on Aug. 31, with a later start date in September for students.
Reopening Schools: Here are the preliminary plans for RI, Southeastern Mass. districts »
On Thursday, the New Bedford School Committee sent out their three-phase reopening plan which will be in a hybrid model. Students will start the school year with remote learning from home and gradually return to in-person learning in October.
Sept. 16 will be the first day of school, and in this model, the majority of students will spend two days in the classroom and three days at home. The district also plans to group students into three cohorts, A, B, and C.
Cohort A will consist of “targeted students,” meaning students who are homeless, special needs, or ESL students. These students will return to school for in-person learning on Sept. 16, while other students will begin remote learning classes at home. These students will also go to school all five days of the week.
Cohort B will consist of transition grades — Pre-K, Kindergarten, 6th grade, and 9th grade — who will return to the classroom starting Oct. 5. Cohort C will consist of the remaining students, who will return to school on Oct. 19.
This plan is just one of the many scenarios districts have had to run through to figure out what is best for them. Fall River Mayor Paul Coogan said he is in favor of as much in-person learning as possible — the city also chose a hybrid model.
“As a lifelong educator, I know how important it is to have that personal contact with your students so that they can bond and respect with you, but at the same time, safety is the overarching concern of everybody,” he said. “I sure do hope there’s a way to pull it off, but it will be what’s best for the families the students the staff and for Fall River.”
In contrast, neighboring Somerset-Berkley has chosen a full remote plan to start off the school year. Westport, and Swansea have decided on a hybrid model.
This comes on the heels of Gov. Charlie Baker releasing a colored map chart on Tuesday, identifying which cities are most at risk for the coronavirus.
Baker says that if you are in the two lowest risk categories, he couldn’t imagine why districts would not return back to school either full-time or hybrid.
“We’re asking families in moderate and high risk communities to avoid having big play-dates and avoid big gatherings with multiple families and friends and to wear face coverings and to be conscience of all the guidance that have been provided by the commonwealth,” he said.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education say once they get all of their submissions, they will go through the approvals and publicly post all of the districts’ plans online.