June 25, 2020
Members of the Gateway Community:
Today, Governor Baker’s office and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released their initial guidance about reopening schools this fall. We applaud the level of thought and care that went into the development of this guidance and share its goal of the safe return of as many students as possible to in-person school settings in order to best meet students’ academic, social, and emotional needs.
Over the coming days, we will be reviewing the guidance to begin to understand how it impacts what we can do in the Gateway Regional School District. We also acknowledge that these initial guidelines do not address every topic and that there will be additional guidance coming throughout the summer that could impact and result in changes shortly before school opens. The full document can be found on the district’s website or here, but the following are some key components:
Current medical research supports a safe in-person return to school - with preventive measures in place - as infection and transmission rates are lower for children than adults.
Preventive measures include masks/face coverings, physical distancing, handwashing, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces
Masks/face coverings will be required for all students in Grade 2 and above and for all adults; they are recommended for students in Grade 1 and below.
Masks/face coverings will be required for all students while on the bus.
Based upon current medical research, and in conjunction with other preventive measures, a minimum physical distance of three feet has been established by DESE and the state.
Districts are required to develop three separate plans - one for return to full in-person instruction with safety requirements, one for full remote learning, and one for hybrid learning that combines in-person and remote learning. This three-tiered approach provides districts the ability to be flexible and responsive to the changing needs of our students, our community, and state health guidance. Based upon the current medical situation, the expectation today is that students will return to full in-person instruction in August; however, that is subject to change based upon how the medical situation develops. The district will be working with our staff across all disciplines to develop the plans required by DESE that will be reflective of the uniqueness of Gateway and our member towns.
The DESE guidance also indicates that it will be up to parents and their medical professionals to determine whether families will return their children to school physically. To that end, Gateway will also be determining how to provide full remote learning for those families who do not wish for their children to return to school physically.
We recognize that state guidance provides more questions than answers and does not yet provide certainty regarding the reopening of our schools. As we develop plans and protocols we will communicate these to our families and request input from parents regarding their thoughts and concerns. We also encourage you to communicate directly with the district through your child’s principal, through the pupil services director, with the business manager, and superintendent, or by using the firstname.lastname@example.org email address that we’ll be using to collect thoughts about opening schools under the DESE guidance.
Thank you for your patience and understanding,