BOSTON (WGGB/WSHM) -- State education officials have announced new details as they work to get students across the Commonwealth back in the classroom.
Mass. Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Jeffrey Riley sent a letter to superintendents today indicating that as of Monday, April 5, hybrid and remote learning models will not count toward required student learning times for elementary students.
As such, districts are required to have elementary school grade levels - grades K-5 - in full-time, in-person instruction for five days a week by Monday, April 5.
Similarly, hybrid and remote learning models will not count toward required student learning times for middle school students starting on Wednesday, April 28 and districts will need to transition grades 6-8 to full-time, in-person learning by that date.
"We will announce the details and timing of the high school phase of the plan in April. Districts will be provided with at least two weeks in advance of the date for high school students to return to full-time, in-person instruction, but should start making such plans now," Riley added.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said that schools and districts can request a waiver, but they noted that with case numbers decreasing, they do not anticipate granting waivers due to high community prevalence of COVID-19 for the elementary school phase of the plan.
West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt said his district is currently in a hybrid learning model, but school officials are already starting to update plans to put DESE’s requirements in motion.
“We are working with our principals and working with our schools to make sure we can bring that back and make it happen on April 5. I'm hopeful that we'll be able to do that, I'm hopeful that we can bring our older kids back earlier too instead of later in April, bring more kids back in April. We do have a school committee meeting tonight. I do hope to have an update from the superintendent. We are working towards that goal with the DESE guidance that was just released," Reichelt said.
Western Mass News will continue to follow this story and will have more information as it becomes available.