CONWAY — Masks will not be mandated for students seated in classrooms, provided they can adequately social distance — that’s one of the highlights in the state’s 54-page “Back-To-School" guidance for New Hampshire schools that Gov. Chris Sununu released Tuesday afternoon.
“We all share a goal in getting our kids back to school safely and believe this guidance allows schools to open, but we know each school district will have a different path forward,” said Sununu. “Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, this is a guide that values local control, and helps each school district make the best decision for their students and teachers.”
Highlights of the plan include:
• Daily screening process for staff, students and visitors for symptoms of COVID-19 or risk factors for exposure prior to entering schools.
• Recommendation for classroom arrangement to minimize close contact between students.
• Masks, while not mandated for students when seated in the classroom, are recommended when physical distancing cannot be maintained. Ultimate determination of their use will be a local decision.
• Educators and staff working with students are encouraged to wear a cloth face covering when physical distancing is difficult to maintain.
• Masks mandated for all outside visitors to schools.
“This guidance provides concrete steps schools can take to reopen with built-in layers of protection to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, while also allowing school systems the flexibility to establish a process that will help them meet the unique needs of their student populations and communities,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan.
Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut thanked "the thousands of experts, parents, teachers, school leaders and community members who provided invaluable input to the School Transition Reopening and Redesign Taskforce in the development of our reopening guidance.
“We expect students to be back in school in September, with local schools making decisions that work for their communities," he said.
"Nothing can ever eliminate all risk, but we must balance that risk with the need to educate New Hampshire children.”
To see the entire state plan, go to tinyurl.com/yb649t2j.