[Message from Commissioner’s Weekly Update, June 29, 2020]

On Thursday, June 25, DESE released initial fall school reopening guidance [download] following weeks of collaboration with stakeholders and the medical community. The guidance calls for schools to reopen this fall while meeting safety requirements, including the use of masks for all but the youngest students and 3 to 6 feet of social distancing. The guidance calls for districts to prioritize planning for return to in-person learning, while also planning for hybrid learning (in case full in-person learning is not possible), and for remote learning (in case of an outbreak).

The Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MCAAP) has endorsed the guidance, and Dr. Lloyd Fisher, incoming president of the MCAAP, joined Dr. Sandra Nelson, an infectious diseases physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, at the press conference where Governor Baker, Lt. Gov. Polito, Secretary Peyser, and Commissioner Riley announced the guidance.

In addition, the Baker-Polito Administration announced approximately $200 million from the Commonwealth’s federal Coronavirus Relief Fund for costs related to reopening public schools. This funding is intended to supplement other sources, such as the $502 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund that Governor Baker previously allocated to cities and towns and $194 million in federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund grants.

In partnership with legislative leadership, the Administration also committed $25 million in federal funds for a matching grant program to help school districts and charter schools close technology gaps.