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State Asks Schools to Plan for Three Scenarios; Barnstable Plan Taking Shape

Liz Lerner
Children sit for storytime pre-COVID.

School districts have their work cut out for them with state guidelines released Thursday on the reopening of schools.

The state guidance asks superintendents to plan for three scenarios: everyone back in school, everyone learning remotely, and a hybrid of the two.

Barnstable school Superintendent Meg Mayo-Brown said that at Barnstable High School, bringing 1,800 students back in the building could be too much.

“Trying to imagine having that number of students in a building all at once and being able to adhere to a three-to-six foot physical distancing requirement — I’m not quite sure how we would do that,” she said.

The Baker administration urged schools to use six feet of physical distancing if possible, and set a minimum of three feet.

The guidance requires masks for adults and for students in Grade 2 and above. Some people may be exempted for medical reasons.

For children in Grade 1 and below, masks are recommended, but not required.

Mayo-Brown said the requirements make sense.

“It seems reasonable for sure, because of the risks associated with continued isolation of students,” she said.

She said schools will probably use cafeterias to reduce class sizes, and students will eat in the classroom.

The state guidance also calls for districts to make a plan for how people can take “mask breaks” throughout the day.

In Barnstable, Mayo-Brown said those breaks will include outdoor recess for young children, though schools may need to organize activities to prevent close contact.