With August 1 coming up on Sunday, a number of parents on the Seacoast are already thinking about what back to school will look like this academic year.

This is what we know so far:

Officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.

State officials have said they are not issuing specific COVID-19 guidelines for the return to classes, instead relying on "universal best practices" and allowing local leaders to make decisions that best fit their community.

Gov. Chris Sununu has signed into law House Bill 220 which would prohibit public schools and agencies from requiring a COVID-19 vaccine in order to receive services.

This is what is coming up:

People who have students who attend school in Dover can view the preliminary plan district officials have drafted. Members of the school board will be reviewing it during their August 9 meeting.

"This past year has been problematic with many twists, turns, starts and stops. Fundamentally, what we have learned is that multiple plans and approaches confuse the community and raise anxiety as well as frustration. The district needs to be clear as to our plans and expectations as the district starts the 2021-2022 school year," the draft plan states.

Officials predict the number of families who opt to have their children learn remotely will continue to diminish, but recommend offering remote options for students with documented medical conditions that make in-person attendance during high levels of COVID-19 transmission medically unsafe.

The district will follow a five-day week schedule and students will be expected to be in person unless they have a health-related issue.

Students under the age of 12 cannot be vaccinated yet, so district officials will maintain a mask mandate, as well as social distancing protocols in grades Pre-K to 8.

They could eliminate the six-foot social distancing rule in the cafeteria and lift the mask mandate at the high school since all of the students and staff members have had the opportunity to be vaccinated.

Large group school-sponsored gatherings outside of the school day will be allowed. All spectator attendees of indoor events must wear masks.

Rochester parents can view the guidance for their schools here. It is subject to change before the start of the academic year and was based on COVID-19 data as of May 27.

Masks will be optional in Rochester, but there will be hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette in place. Disposable surface wipes will be available in every classroom, computer lab, multipurpose room, common area and other identified areas with high traffic.

There will also be a daily self-screener for students, staff and visitors.

According to the plan, district officials were hoping to make improvements to the HVAC and ventilation systems using federal funding.

People who have students who attend the Oyster River School District can learn more about that district's plan during the school board's meeting on Aug. 4 at 7 p.m. Those meetings are broadcast on Channel 95 and live-streamed.

In Portsmouth, school officials posted they will have five full days of in-person learning, they will restore extracurricular activities and they will be monitoring guidance from NH Department of Health and Human Services.

There will be a parent forum on Aug. 9 at 6:30 p.m. at Portsmouth High School.

CDC officials have recommendations for helping young children and parents transition back to school. You can find them by clicking here.

Contact Managing News Editor Kimberley Haas at Kimberley.Haas@townsquaremedia.com.


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