Springfield, Chicopee officials preparing for upcoming school year

Despite the extreme heat, it’s August and school is right around the corner and many school districts are busy getting their back to school plans together.
Updated: Aug. 4, 2022 at 5:00 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Despite the extreme heat, it’s August and school is right around the corner and many school districts are busy getting their back to school plans together.

The districts have pointed to air ventilation when it comes to putting kids back in the classroom with no masks, but there’s also a concern if schools will be up to full staff by the time doors open.

“We’re ready to go back to school in-person. That’s extremely important. Our kids need to be in school,” said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.

Sarno is looking forward to the new school year, which starts on August 29. We’re told the district plans to open schools the way they closed them: with no mask requirements or social distancing. As far as health concerns go, the mayor pointed to ventilation in school buildings.

“I spent millions and millions of dollars to retrofit all of our buildings, including our school buildings. As far as the highest levels of air filtration, the filters that are going on there,” Sarno noted.

Chicopee Public Schools echoed the same thing.

“The bonus is, within the Chicopee public schools and I would say most schools within the Commonwealth, is the upgrade of the ventilation systems throughout all the school systems. We didn’t have that two, three years ago,” said Matthew Francis, assistant superintendent for Chicopee Public Schools.

As for open teacher positions, Francis told us about the candidates they’re getting.

“In a pre-COVID time, you would get an elementary position, grade three teacher and you’d have 50 to 60 candidates. We’re not seeing that as much. We’re not seeing the younger candidates coming fresh out of school,” Francis explained.

Francis said due to their workforce needs, he is grateful that the state is continuing its emergency teacher certification program, which means someone with a bachelor’s degree could be hired to teach this school year. He said their openings are district-wide.

“We have about 169 positions. Now, we’re talking cafeteria, custodians, and administration, along with the additional 40 positions we added on out of that 169,” Francis said.

As for COVID-19 guidance this school year, Francis told us there’s a call with state education officials early next week.