New guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, or DESE, for the 2021-22 school year means next year may be a return to the type of “normal” education students haven’t had since March of 2020.
The new guidance says that “For the fall, all districts and schools will be required to be in-person, full-time, five days a week, and all DESE health and safety requirements will be lifted. This includes all physical distancing requirements.”
These health and safety requirements include most mask mandates in school, social distancing, and more.
Yes, you read that right: in-person school, five days a week, without mandatory masks or physical distancing. While this may seem like a huge leap forward, keep in mind that this may change if case counts worsen. And, the school committee may decide to disregard this guidance and enforce masks and/or social distancing.
So how did we get here? Let’s review: In March of 2020, all Hull public schools went completely remote. In August, we were able to have a very small, masked, and socially distanced graduation.
In September of this year, after hours of debate, we started this year in a hybrid model, with masks and a six-foot distance for all. We went fully remote at the high school again only once, and only for two weeks.
Then, more than a year after Hull schools initially went remote, we came back five days a week with a three-foot distance. A few weeks ago, it was decided that high school students no longer have to wear masks outdoors.
We’ve made tremendous progress. When it comes time to vote on whether or not to have students wear masks indoors for the 2021-22 school year, let’s not mask our progress or our students.
There likely will be those that wish to play it safe, to continue wearing masks, to observe social distancing. A brief reminder: Al high school students and most middle school students are already eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and by August its likely young children will be, too.
You can go shopping, or to get coffee, or to church without a mask. We’re finally starting to see each other’s faces again. Come fall, our students should be able to do the same at school. And yes, as cliche as it is, there is hope on the horizon.