WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- As the start of school inches closer, districts across the state are working to figure out the safest way students can continue their education while also following the newest state guidelines.

The state's latest updated guidance gives a better insight into what the fall could look like for students and educators.

The West Springfield mayor said during the pandemic, guidance is changing day by day.

Across the state, school districts are hard at work planning for what the upcoming school year could look like during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The state has asked us to do kind of three plans -- a full return, a hybrid and a full remote,” Mayor William Reichelt said. “We are not really able to do a full return at six feet. At six feet, we can’t bring everyone back”

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control released new guidelines encouraging districts to bring students back to the classroom.

A 34-page document released by the state's department of elementary and Secondary Education describes how districts can plan for the fall.

Here is some of the guidance.

  • It includes temporary walls to be put up in larger spaces in the school
  • Breakfast and lunch should be individually packed instead of buffet style
  • It’s recommended that students eat in the classroom unless schools mark where each student should sit inside of the cafeteria
  • For a trip to and from school, it’s recommended for students to sit one person per seat on school buses while wearing masks

That's something Reichelt said will be a challenge because of the school's systems using collaboration.

“So there are only so many busses to go around,” he said. “And one-third bussing with one person per seat will dramatically cut into what we can do transportation wise. We can’t just add busses because we don’t have access to them.”

The mayor said that his district will be releasing their own plans for the start of school on Tuesday.

“Tomorrow at our school committee meeting, Tuesday night at 6 p.m., we are releasing our draft, and I encourage the word draft because this is just a public display, what we have been working on,” he said.

Reichelt said they will be releasing a survey for families tomorrow for their input on their own plan for the school year.

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

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