State releases school guidance, but districts will decide how best to proceed

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CONCORD - School districts will have wide latitude when developing back to school policy under the governor's COVID-19 guidance issued on Tuesday, including continuing with remote learning like they began using in March if they choose.

"We want to create a system that allows flexibility and is also dynamic," said Gov. Chris Sununu during a Tuesday press conference.

The flexibility comes in the form of allowing school districts and individual schools within that district to develop a plan that is right for them. For example, Sununu noted that some schools might not have the necessary classroom size to allow for social distancing of the 3-6 feet required under the new guidance documents.

Sununu stressed that this will allow school districts to take things on situationally and allow them to pivot as administrators, teachers and parents decide what is best.

Any child can opt to continue with remote learning, and any teacher fearful of catching the virus can opt to remain teaching from home.

One thing is certain, he noted. This will take a lot more money, including large numbers of substitute teachers, aides and bus drivers to accommodate the potential for quarantining and/or infected staff that may have to rotate out for 10 or more days during the academic year.

The guidance also calls for every school to have a "lead communication team" that will focus on making sure all staff are on the same page, three extra teacher prep days before the school year begins and a "cultural change" that will seek to engender students with COVID-safety protocols including social distancing, hand hygiene and mask wearing, especially in common areas like lockers and hallways.

Gov. Sununu also released unemployment numbers on the state's quick recovery, including that the state is gaining back jobs at 4 or 5 times the national rate. He said that 35 percent of those who lost jobs at the start of the pandemic in March are already back to work.

Looking at business categories, he said hospitals have hired back 93 percent of those who had been employed prior to pandemic.

He said those looking for work should go to to see job listings for almost 1,000 positions available now.

Meanwhile, Dr. Benjamin Chan, the state's top epidemiologist, announced 23 new cases of COVID-19, with two new hospitalizations and one death attributed to the virus, a Hillsborough County woman who had lived at a congregate elderly living facility.

Current Situation in New Hampshire

Persons with COVID-19 6,091

Recovered 5,101 (84%)

Deaths Attributed to COVID-19 392 (6%)

otal Current COVID-19 Cases 598

Persons Who Have Been Hospitalized for COVID-19 665 (11%)

Current Hospitalizations 23

Persons Being Monitored in NH (approximate point in time) 3,575

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