SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- As school districts prepare for students to head back to the classroom in the fall, the latest state recommendation has students wearing masks in the school.
We spoke with Daniel Warwick, the superintendent of schools in Springfield, who said the safety of students is their number one priority.
Student are just a few months away from packing up their backpacks with their books, pencils, and now face coverings.
“I wonder how they would work that in again because we’ve all been home for so long and I think, like me, I haven’t taken my kids out all that much, so the amount of time that they really had practiced with their masks has been so little,” said Sara Moriarty, parent of three children.
Under the state's latest guidelines, students in grades two or above are required to wear face coverings.
We asked Warwick if that recommendation will be flexible for parents who don't want their kids wear masks in schools.
“It really is a safety issue, so we are not going to be able too comfortable to keep the environment safe. Now, if a student has a pre-existing condition or a reason for not wearing a mask then we will have to deal with it, but we are really going need to insist on the mask to keep everyone safe,” Warwick explained.
Warwick said some students can continue learning remotely, but recent guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends students learn in school, saying in part:
“The importance of inperson learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020.”
Some students, like one of Moriarty's children, has some verbal issues where communicating can be tough - even without a mask.
Warwick said the school system is planning on helping students anyway that they can.
“…So there’d be certain kinds of masks that they’d be wearing that can be seen through and things like that, so we would have those accommodations. We’re buying the PPE now and looking at all those special considerations, so our special education director’s working with us on that,” Warwick said.
Warwick said there will be break times for when students can take off their masks.
“You take the mask break, but there are easy ways to do that, so we’ll be looking at recess options, opportunities where we can get the kids in a socially distanced manner when they can take a break from the mask,” Warwick noted.
Warwick said guidelines could change the closer we get to September.