Newton Public Schools considering tents, outdoor learning as part of reopening plan

NEWTON, MASS. (WHDH) - School officials in Newton are considering holding some classes outdoors this fall as a way to safely get students back in the classroom during the coronavirus pandemic.

Tents are ready to be setup outside of Newton Public Schools should the district decide on an outdoor teaching model, according to Superintendent David A. Fleishman.

“We think it’s really important to give ourselves options for the fall. And tents give us options so that students and staff can learn and work outside,” Fleishman said.

The school district is weighing two reopening options — a hybrid model of in-person and remote classes and distance learning, where students learn exclusively from home.

A hybrid-model would allow students to return to classrooms if they wear masks inside. Students taught in outdoor classrooms under tents would not be required to wear a mask.

“At times of the day we think it could be helpful for students to gather outside. We have to think about mask breaks, for example. That’s going to be a new concept in education,” Fleishman said.

The hybrid-model would also allow parents who want to keep students at home all of the time to do just that.

“Districts have a responsibility to provide a remote learning plan for students who are not comfortable or who do not choose to come to school, so we have team working on that,” Fleishman explained.

As of now, the district has 38 tents for its 22 schools as it prepares for fall learning.

A decision won’t be made until mid-August.

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