BOSTON (AP/WHDH) — All public elementary schools in Massachusetts will be required to open for full-time, in-person learning by April 5, while middle schools will be required to do so on April 28, the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced Tuesday.

No reopening date was provided for high schools, but the department said districts would be given two weeks’ notice and should start planning to reopen high schools now.

The announcement comes just days after state Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley was given the authority to determine when hybrid and remote learning models will no longer count toward student learning hours across the state.

Under Riley’s plan students and teachers will be required to wear a mask, desks must be at least three feet apart with students facing the same direction, and masks can only be taken off during activities such as eating lunch if there is six feet of distance from others.

School districts can apply for a waiver if they do not think it’s safe to open under the state’s plan, but Riley said they would be given only “for a limited set of circumstances.”

Parents will also have the option to keep their children in a virtual learning model through the end of the school year.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association has said reopening decisions should be left to local school committees.

As of Feb. 12, nearly 80 percent of Massachusetts school districts were providing at least some in-person instruction. About 20 percent of the districts remain in remote-only learning.

Gov. Charlie Baker has announced that Massachusetts teachers will be eligible to register for a coronavirus vaccine starting Thursday, but warned that demand far exceeds supply.

(Copyright (c) 2024 Sunbeam Television. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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