(WWLP) – State education officials will lift all COVID-19 health and safety requirements for the 2021-2022 school year.  

A Department of Elementary and Secondary Education spokeswoman confirmed the decision with 22News Thursday evening, along with updated guidance allowing students to return to classrooms full-time for five days a week without physical distancing.

DESE said it will work with state public health officials to issue any additional health and safety requirements over the summer before, like masks for elementary school students. 

“The department will provide updates to districts and schools as it receives them,” DESE stated.

Education officials explained their decision to lift all COVID-19 safety requirements was based on the declining infections, hospitalizations, and deaths, as well as the state’s lifting of COVID restrictions and the end of Gov. Baker’s State of Emergency on June 15.

Below is the full updated guidance for the 2021-2022 school year:

  • For the 2021-22 school year, all schools will be required to be in-person, full-time five days a week and all DESE health and safety requirements will be lifted, including distancing requirements 
  • Districts will no longer be able to offer remote learning as a standard learning model. 
  • For the remainder of the school year, the health and safety requirements for K-12 schools will remain in effect, with the exception of outdoor masking:
    1. *Students and staff are no longer required to wear masks during outdoor activities, including recess. 
    2. *DESE will not issue separate guidance for summer school programs. 
    3. *For summer programs, districts are encouraged to follow the health and safety guidance from DESE currently in place for in-person learning this spring. 
  • Graduation guidance has been also updated to reduce restrictions, in line with the Commonwealth’s updates.   
  • The State of Emergency ends on June 15