SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Western Mass News got a sneak peak of what class will be like when Springfield Public School students return to the classroom next week. It will be the beginning of a new normal following a year of full remote learning in the district.
School officials walked us through a classroom, a bathroom, and the hallways to show off all the changes students and parents can expect.
“Daily disinfection of touch points, daily cleaning and disinfection of bathrooms, locker rooms,” said Springfield Public School Superintendent Daniel Warwick.
The return to full time in-person learning at Springfield Public Schools looks a lot like the return to a lot of other things during the COVID-19 pandemic. Distanced desks, santizer stations, and one-way hallways are just part of the plan that district officials have put together after a year of full remote learning.
Because Springfield was granted a waiver by state officials, the district is allowed a slower transition back into full time learning. Elementary students will start hybrid Monday, but won't return five days a week until May 3. Sixth graders will start hybrid with elementary students, but will return fully in-person on May 10. Seventh and eighth graders will start hybrid on April 26 and will also join fully in person May 10.
The plan for high schoolers is yet to be determined, but Putnam Technical students grades 10-12 will return April 5 for hands-on classes. Level one English language learners will come back with their corresponding age groups, but will be five-days a week right away.
Schools officials told Western Mass News students will have two mask breaks a day and that masks are required for everyone.
“We found out our Pre-K kids and our K kids can handle face masks, so face masks are needed for safety,” Warwick explained.
In addition to distancing, water fountains have been taped off and touchless water bottle fillers have been installed instead. Students can fill up water bottles to eat with lunch, which won't be in the cafeteria.
“For safety for now, we’ve had a lot of practice with breakfast in the classrooms. We’re going to do breakfast and lunch in the classrooms,” Warwick said.
Western Mass News showed a video of the new changes to a parent with a child in eighth grade, who wasn't convinced this return to full time is the safest option.
“I think they’re rushing it…but I know that there’s working parents out there that do need it and whatnot, so it’s like a Catch-22,” that parent explained.
Parents are still allowed to keep their children fully remote if they choose, but for others, they will have the chance to meet each other and their teacher in-person possibly for the very first time all year.
“I am excited to formally meet and see all the smiling faces I have had the pleasure teaching and getting to know,” said second grade teacher Jessica Davila.
While the mask is going to be mandatory for everyone one thing that's not: the uniforms. School officials say said students can still wear their uniforms if they want, but if they've grown out of them or can't find them after a year of not being used, other school-appropriate clothing will be allowed.