Governor orders schools return to fully in-person classes by April 19

  • FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2021, file photo, Rycc Smith welcomes Montello Elementary School students as they board his bus outside the Lewiston, Maine school after the first day back in nearly a month. The entire school district switched to all remote learning after an uptick in COVID-19 cases last month. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal via AP, File) Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Monitor staff
Published: 4/1/2021 4:13:54 PM

Governor Chris Sununu announced a new mandate Thursday, that all New Hampshire K-12 schools must reopen for full-time, in-person learning five days a week by April 19, a week before districts break for April vacation.

Sununu called the mandate the “next step,” as it comes almost a month after his last order requiring schools to offer in-person learning at least two days a week, which went into effect March 8. 

“We all know we need to get our kids back into schools, not just for educational reasons but for mental health reasons, for socialization,” Sununu said. “During the crisis, remote learning was a good backstop, but doesn’t come nearly as close to providing the fulfillment and enrichment that being in the classroom not just a couple days a week but five days a week can allow.”

Sununu said that about 60% of New Hampshire K-12 schools are already open full time. He hopes to get the rest open before April break. 

Sununu said the decision to reopen schools is based on the timeline of New Hampshire’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which calls for school employees to receive their second dose of the vaccine before April 19, and the low transmission rates in schools so far this year.

“All the teachers would have gotten their second shot, children are a very low-risk population, 60% of our schools are already in five days a week, 40% are in two days a week,” Sununu said. “So it’s just the next logical step and they’ve had plenty of time to really be able to ramp up and prepare for this.”

Concord and Hopkinton school districts, which have been operating in hybrid mode with two days of in-person instruction per week, had planned to return to daily in-person classes on May 3, after April vacation. 

Parents in some districts have been lobbying for schools to reopen fully to in-person classes, citing the struggles of their children learning in a remote model.

A remote option will remain available for families that do not wish to return to in-person learning.

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