AGAWAM, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- As the first day of school approaches, the Agawam school district is gearing up to provide a safe environment for students.

“We wanted to make sure we went through every piece of equipment, whether it's on the roof, on the ground, in the classroom,” said Agawam Mayor Bill Sapelli.

Schools in western Mass are making sure their buildings are up to date to ensure the safety of all students amid the coronavirus pandemic.

New guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education includes an increase in air ventilation throughout school buildings.

Sapelli said that the district brought in private contractors to make sure all equipment is ready to go.

“We have the proper equipment now for ventilation and air circulation and air exchange, and we made sure they’re all working properly by making sure they are up to speed with regards to belts, coils, cleaning and filters,” he said.

With the hot temperatures extending into September and sometimes October, Sapelli said the district is also making sure all windows can provide the proper circulation.

“We made sure that we had the proper screening installed in the windows, but yes, windows will be a main source circulating air as well,” he said.

The Agawam school district will also be allowing students to take a break from wearing masks.

“There are going to be times where we’re going to be allowing students to, in an appropriate situation, to take a break from the mask because that's necessary. They're just young students,” he said.

At this time, Sapelli said there is a committee ironing out the details of how this will be implemented, but he added the breaks will be for short periods since masks have played a pivotal role in keeping case numbers down.

Lunchtime will also be looking a lot different for students.

“We are going to be using other areas of the school, such as the auditorium, possibly some library space at times, maybe gymnasiums and of course classrooms to make sure students will get their lunch, and that they will be able to eat their lunch with their masks off,” he said.

Sapelli said there may be additional lunch breaks added if needed to allow everyone to stay apart at a proper social distance.

The school committee is set to vote on Aug. 4 to finalize their plans.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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