Springfield Public Schools announce plans for next academic year

Hampden County

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield Public Schools is moving forward with plans to begin the next school year in August as planned, but will have new practices and protocols to protect students and staff against the spread of Covid-19.

In an email to 22News, Public Schools officials said the school year will begin for students on August 31, 2020, and the new details and rules will apply.

Superintendent of Schools Daniel Warwick said he is aware that the plans for school in the fall are out of the ordinary and he understands how it may cause a concern for some families.

“These have been unprecedented challenging times for our families, and we appreciate the patience and understanding that our families, students and staff have granted us,” said Warwick.  “We know that people have lots of questions, but we are sharing these very preliminary plans now with the hope of providing families with enough time to begin preparing for the fall. We will continue to share information on an ongoing basis as plans materialize and further guidance is issued by the State,” he said.

Superintendent of Schools, Daniel Warwick

The details and rules are subject to change depending on Covid-19 trend status locally, statewide and nationally:

  • Learning in the classroom and remotely on a rotating basis:  According to the current State recommendations, it is expected that students will attend school in person on a rotating basis. In other words, a student will attend school some days in person and engage in remote learning at home on the other days. However, the entire class will continue working on the same curriculum whether at home or in person.
  • The rotating schedule will continue until health authorities declare it is safe to allow schools to relax the rules around social distancing. As recommended by DESE, the mixed schedule is necessary to keep the numbers of students in school at any given time at a level that will allow social distancing.
  • On days when a student is in the school building, class size will be limited and movement throughout the building by teachers and students will also be limited.
  • Families will be able to opt out of in-person education for their student and instead choose remote learning only. Remote learning will allow families to access materials, lessons, curriculum and instruction as provided by the child’s school. It is not to be confused with homeschooling, which requires parents to facilitate a curriculum themselves.
  • Face covering: Students of all ages and teachers will be expected to wear a mask or face covering while in the school buildings and on the bus.
  • Safety and sanitation: Several safety protocols related to hand sanitizing and washing, building cleaning and sanitizing and possibly temperature monitoring measures will be implemented in all SPS buildings for Back to School 2020-2021. School meals will be individually packaged.  Safety protocols will also be implemented for students taking the bus to and from school.
  • Students and staff must stay home if they are feeling sick.

The district’s back-to-school model is being designed based on guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). 

Springfield Public Schools now have a Getting Back to School Safely page on its website, where it will post updates as they become available. SPS will also provide regular updates on their social media platforms and on Focus Springfield Channel 15.

Parents should expect a phone call from their child’s current school in the coming weeks, in which more information would be provided.

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