BOSTON (AP) — State education officials and three major teachers' unions have reached an agreement that will allow public school districts across Massachusetts to delay the start of classes in September up to 10 days so schools can properly develop a plan to make sure students and staff are safe from the coronavirus.
Under the deal announced Monday between state Education Commissioner Jeff Riley and the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, and the Boston Teachers Union, classes can start no later than Sept. 16.
The 10-day delay can be used for schools to redesign classroom lessons, learn techniques to help students overcome trauma they may have experienced during the pandemic, and to learn new safety and health protocols.
“It’s going to be a new world for everyone,” Beth Kontos, president of the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts, told The Boston Globe. “I just don’t see everything getting done in time.”
When schools reopen this fall, most students and staff will be required to wear face coverings, desks will be reconfigured to maintain social distancing and students will spend most of their time in small groups with the same students.
Bus capacity will also be limited.
“I’m glad that we were able to reach an agreement that will both support teachers and help ensure students have a successful return to learning,” Riley said in a statement. “School will be different this year, and time for additional training will help educators and staff become better acquainted with the safety measures, protocols, and other changes that will be necessary to begin instruction.”