(WGGB/WSHM) -- Schools and universities are putting together fall reopening plans amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has changed learning as we know it, but as economies begin to reopen, schools are making adjustments to prepare to welcome students back in.
“Schools have always been there. That has been the constant in everyone's life. It's been the schools,” said Chicopee Public Schools Supt. Lynn Clark.
Clark said she feels they're prepared to reopen.
“I feel we are equipped for safety as far as the plexiglass you see here. I feel we're equipped with PPE. Ii believe it will be in and ready,” Clark explained.
School districts - including both Chicopee and West Springfield - already purchased masks for students as required by Governor Baker.
“It's not all falling on our own budgets. We are getting that supplemental help from the state,” said West Springfield Public Schools Supt. Tim Connor.
The money is provided by the federal CARES Act
“Chicopee received a total of about $2 million and our PPE costs will come out of that as well as sanitizer, disinfectant, and other things we need for COVID expenses,” Clark said.
Baker has given districts three options for learning the fall:
- Full-scale return to school
- Remote learning
- Combination of the two
“We're not seeing that we'll have a full opening,” Connor added.
Connor told Western Mass News that they're preparing for most likely hybrid and remote learning, with students at-risk for further academic gaps learning in person.
“They're asking us to look at high need students,” Connor explained.
This comes as school districts work to see how many students they can even fit in a class, with Baker's requirement for desks to be at least three to six feet apart.
“If we could typically fit 28 students in and now, it has to be at least three feet, ideally six feet, we're down to 18, 20 students,” Clark explained.
Mask breaks would be included throughout the school day.
“Three feet is with full mask all the time. The six feet social distancing may allow for a little bit of relief, probably not a lot,” Connor added.
Clark said families in Chicopee are concerned about sending their children back at all.
“Some families say ‘Yes, I want my child come back, but I don't think my child can wear a mask all day long,’” Clark noted.
School districts are still waiting on transportation guidelines from the state. Clark expects it to be at least a three feet requirement between students
“That would almost double our busses that we need,” Clark said.
In West Springfield, Connor planned to survey parents in the coming weeks to see how best they can get their child to school.
“Both the comfort level putting your child on the bus, but also the means of being able to drive them, if possible,” Connor said.