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Fall Reopening Memo For Massachusetts Schools: Masks Required, Limit Class Size To 10

BOSTON (CBS) -- Massachusetts schools are getting word from the state about what they'll need to do in order to safely reopen this fall. The memo from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is focused on "key safety supplies" and social distancing measures to keep students and staff protected against the coronavirus.

The state said it was issuing preliminary guidance now so schools can start preparing and ordering supplies. More guidance will be issued in the coming weeks.

"We are operating with the best information we have as of early June about how to maintain the health and safety of our students and staff in any in-person school programs and limit the risk of COVID-19 transmission," Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley writes in a document sent to superintendents Friday.

Temperature checks won't happen because of the "significant" number of false positives and negatives, but all students and staff will be required to wear masks.

"Parents will be responsible for providing students with face coverings or masks," the guidance states. "Schools must have backup disposable masks for students who need them."

Teachers and staff can wear their own masks or one provided by their school. It's also recommended that schools stock up on face shields and other equipment for staff like nurses, custodians and special education teachers who may have close contact with students.

Schools will have to redesign classroom spaces with the goal of "maintaining 6 feet of separation at all times." Desks will be required to be spaced at least 6 feet apart and this distance must be maintained when students are entering or exiting the building.

Social distancing "will require significantly smaller class sizes," the document states.

"Where feasible, programs should isolate individual groups of students with one consistently assigned teacher, and groups should not mix with other students or staff," the guidance says. "At this time, group sizes are restricted to a maximum of 10 students, with a maximum of 12 individuals, including students and staff, in each room.

The guidance also calls for "frequent hand washing and hand sanitizing." Students and staff must stay home if they are feeling sick. And for those who become ill during the school day, schools must provide a special isolation room for those with coronavirus symptoms that is separate from the nurse's office.

The document also provides information to schools about how much hand sanitizer, masks and other equipment they'll need to order. Click here to read more.

Massachusetts colleges have released their own proposal to "carefully repopulate" campuses this fall.

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