NH school districts working on plans to prepare for return of students

Plans vary from district to district

July 15, 2020

New Hampshire school districts are working to finalize plans for the return of students in the fall.

After the state released guidance Tuesday that left many decisions in the hands of local officials, districts are taking different approaches to reopen.

In Rochester, school officials have been setting up classrooms to space desks 3 and 6 feet apart.

"We're trying to make sure people have the best information and the science behind the decisions so people can make an informed choice," said Superintendent Kyle Repucci.

Rochester officials said they will strongly urge mask use.

"We're trying to make sure we can secure our own stockpile, but we know we're going to be competing against our neighboring districts," Repucci said.

In Salem, every staff member and student will receive five washable masks.

"If someone objects to wearing a mask, that's fine," said Superintendent Michael Delahanty. "They can choose our remote or distanced learning environment."

Masks can only be taken off when students sit at their desks.

"We decided it would be appropriate to have these three-sided desk shields, transparent desk shields, constructed and fixed to all of our student desktops," Delahanty said.

Transparent dividers will also be placed between each seat at cafeteria tables.

A big issue is how to pay for all the layered approaches to keep schools safe. The plans weren't in budgets that were passed in the spring.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen heard the challenges firsthand in Rochester.

"There were funds allocated through the CARES Act, but those have pretty much been spent, so we've got to provide additional help as we look at PPE," Shaheen said.

She said she's hopeful the Senate will look at a $100 billion education relief fund passed by the House.


By:  Jennifer Crompton
Source: WMUR