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Massachusetts DESE launching information and awareness campaign as students head back to school



MALDEN – The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education today announced that next week, it will launch a public awareness campaign to help remind parents, students and teachers that everyone needs to do their part to keep each other healthy and safe as the school year starts.

The campaign consists of television and radio ads, social media, billboards and public transit banners, as well as a website created to help families and caregivers find information about going back to school.

“We remain committed to ensuring the safety and health of our students, faculty and staff, and both science and statewide public health data metrics indicating low rates of COVID-19 infection and transmission supported our decision to safely return to school,” said Education Secretary James Peyser. “The Department has allocated nearly $1 billion to ensure that districts statewide can facilitate modified in-person education while adhering to COVID-19 public health measures.”

“Over the summer, the Department worked with many stakeholders and medical experts to carefully develop detailed guidance to reopen schools safely, and superintendents, teachers and staff worked hard to implement those health and safety requirements,” said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley. “We now need to rely on families, students and the other members of the public to do their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 so that our kids can get back to school.”

The television and radio ads will air Sept. 7 through Oct. 10, while the public transit ads will run from September through November in Boston, Brockton, Lowell, New Bedford, Springfield and Worcester.

The website,, will provide families with information about:

-Why doctors say most communities in Massachusetts are uniquely positioned to return to school safely;
-What schools are doing to promote safety and mitigate risks;
-Frequently asked questions and answers about returning to school;
-And how to stay connected to accurate information on reopening and COVID-19.

Additionally, DESE has developed a checklist for families to consider when working to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

-Be aware of the symptoms of COVID-19, and check children every day for them.
-Keep children home if they are sick or have had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19.
-Have a back-up plan ready in case your child wakes up with symptoms and needs to stay home.
-Remind your child to wear a mask in school and on the bus.
-Arrange for transportation other than the bus whenever possible.

Districts have plans in place for when a student receives a positive COVID-19 test or is a close contact of someone who tests positive. Communicate with teachers and school leaders if your child’s health changes, if they come in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 or if you have concerns.

DESE states that in order to support the safe and healthy return to school, it is critical that individuals throughout the Commonwealth continue to adhere to public health guidance to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, practice proper hygiene and wear a mask or face covering in public places where social distancing is not possible. Additionally, the Baker-Polito Administration announced new initiatives, including stricter statewide rules for public and private gatherings, targeted community guidance and testing, and statewide enforcement and intervention efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.

In June, the Department released initial guidance for school reopening that prioritizes getting students safely back to school in person this fall, if the health metrics in the community allow. The Department also required schools to create hybrid learning plans to teach students in-person and remotely on alternating schedules, and to have robust remote learning plans in place, should those alternate learning models be needed.

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