On Tuesday, Massachusetts Education Commissioner Jeffrey Reilly told districts that they will be required to offer full-time, in-person learning to high school students in grades 9 through 12 by May 17.

(WGGB/WSHM) -- State officials have released new guidance on when high school students should be back in classrooms across the Commonwealth.

On Tuesday, Massachusetts Education Commissioner Jeffrey Reilly told districts that they will be required to offer full-time, in-person learning to high school students in grades 9 through 12 by May 17.

Districts can apply for a waiver of the required May start date, but the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said that they will only be considered in a limited set of circumstances and districts that do not receive a waiver will need to make up any missed structured learning time.

“With the robust mitigation strategies schools have put in place and all the scientific data around schools’ safety, it is time to begin the process of returning all K-12 students to classrooms. By bringing high school students back now, we will be in a stronger position to start school in the fall...As we have stated repeatedly during this school year, there is no substitute for in-person learning, particularly for students with disabilities and English learners," said Mass. Education Secretary James Peyser in a statement.

Families will continue to have the choice on whether to send their child to school or continue learning remotely through the end of the academic year.

One Springfield parent said she’s excited for her son to be back in person but is confused with the late start as summer is quickly approaching. 

“His grades dropped because he needs to have that in-person kind of thing because it’s really hard for him to stay focused so I think that’s why it’s exciting for me because I’m excited for him in that case but I still think it’s just poorly planned,” Springfield mother Christy Torres said. 

Springfield is one local district that had not released any dates for high schoolers to return in person. 

DESE added that districts and schools should work to get those high school students with disabilities or students who are English learners back to full-time, in-person learning before the May 17 deadline.

Elementary school students began full-time, in-person learning on April 5 and middle school students will resume work in the classroom on April 28. 

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