New Hampshire Back to School Guidance Released

Press Release

Concord, NH – Today, the State of New Hampshire released Back-To-School guidance for New Hampshire schools. This guidance offers a roadmap for school districts across the state to reopen safely. In keeping with New Hampshire’s longstanding commitment to local control, the State allowing school districts flexibility and is offering guidance that public health officials believe can allow for safe in-person classroom instruction.

“We all share a goal in getting our kids back to school safely and believe this guidance allows schools to open , but we know each school district will have a different path forward,” said Governor Chris Sununu. “Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, this is a guide that values local control, and helps each school district make the best decision for their students and teachers.”

“This guidance provides concrete steps schools can take to re-open with built in layers of protection to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, while also allowing school systems the flexibility to establish a process that will help them meet the unique needs of their student populations and communities,.” Said State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan. “The novel coronavirus is still present in our state and our communities, and as with any re-opening during the pandemic, school officials have the difficult task of maximizing the benefits of students returning to school and minimizing or mitigating the risks of spreading COVID-19 in schools. We will continue to work with individual schools, school districts and the broader education community to support their efforts to reopen in a safe manner.”

“I want to thank the thousands of experts, parents, teachers, school leaders and community members who provided invaluable input to the School Transition Reopening and Redesign Taskforce in the development of our reopening guidance,” said Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut. “We expect students to be back in school in September, with local schools making decisions that work for their communities. These plans should emphasize good hygiene practices and mitigation procedures that are appropriate for their communities. Schools should be prepared to accommodate students and staff with underlying health risks, and have a robust response plan in place if coronavirus is detected. Nothing can ever eliminate all risk, but we must balance that risk with the need to educate New Hampshire children.”

Student and staff safety remain the primary factor in developing these recommendations, recognizing that, through various mitigation efforts, risk can be reduced. With these recommendations, schools can fully reopen for in-person instruction in a safe manner.

Among the highlights:

  • Robust daily screening process for staff, students and visitors for symptoms of COVID-19 or risk factors for exposure prior to entering the educational facility.
  • Recommendation for classroom arrangement to minimize close contact between students.
  • Masks are not mandated for students when seated in the classroom, but are recommended in circumstances when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Educators and staff who are working with students are also encouraged to wear a face cloth covering when physical distancing is difficult to maintain.
  • Masks are mandated for all outside visitors when visiting a school.
  • Plans for how a school can provide in-person education as well remote-learning options for those who choose not to return to school for health or safety reasons.
  • District transportation plans must implement safety protocols that are realistic and not overly disruptive of the instructional models.

A copy of the guidance can be found here.

Link to the Guidance at https://www.covidguidance.nh.gov/sites/g/files/ehbemt381/files/inline-documents/sonh/k-12-back-to-school.pdf

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