DESE officials address COVID-19, monkeypox protocols for upcoming school year

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, or DESE, held a closed-door meeting with superintendents Monday afternoon to address the upcoming school y
Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 6:14 PM EDT
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WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Preparations are underway for the new school year starting later this month.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, or DESE, held a closed-door meeting with superintendents Monday afternoon to address the upcoming school year’s COVID-19 protocols.

DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley led the meeting. It lasted about a half-hour and primarily addressed COVID-19 protocols for the upcoming school year.

Western Mass News checked in with West Springfield Interim Superintendent Vito Perrone who was on the call. He said his main takeaway is that the COVID-19 guidance from last spring will be the guidance moving forward in the fall.

That means masking is optional. School districts are not required to report COVID-19 cases to DESE, and if students or staff do test positive, they can return to school after 5 days of quarantine if they are symptom-free.

It was announced in May that the state will no longer supply COVID-19 rapid tests to school districts, so more information was released about purchasing rapid tests and masks through a statewide contract.

Perrone also added that DESE will be monitoring any updates to the CDC’s guidance, but state officials are not always in lockstep with them.

Something interesting of note – monkeypox was briefly addressed. Perrone told us that Commissioner Riley said when guidance is released from the Department of Public Health and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, they will follow suit with guidance of their own.

We also heard from DESE officials in a statement earlier Monday that they plan to make this information available to the public in the coming days.