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As N.H.'s Remote Learning School Year Nears End, Planning For Fall Takes Shape

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

A group convened by the Department of Education met for the first time Thursday to figure out how New Hampshire’s schools can resume in the fall.

Planning around the pandemic means planning around the unknown. In some states, school closures are already expected to continue into next year. In New Hampshire, the new School Transition Reopening and Redesign Taskforce is looking at several different scenarios. That includes keeping schools closed, creating a hybrid model where kids go to school in small groups just a few days a week, or reopening entirely.

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But Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut said if schools do reopen in September, they're going to need a contingency plan if, say, there is a surge in new COVID-19 infections in the fall.

The task force is taking recommendations from six working groups that include students, administrators and technology managers. It will issue recommendations to Gov. Chris Sununu and Department of Education by the end of June.

Meanwhile, the state Board of Education is proposing a new requirement for all local school boards to have policies for remote instruction. In March, the Board of Education passed an emergency rule allowing for remote instruction through the end of the school year. This new requirement, proposed on Thursday, would be permanent.

It would require school boards to have remote learning policies and programs that include "academic work equivalent in effort and rigor to typical classroom work."

The Board disagreed over how much discretion to give school boards and parents in deciding when remote instruction is necessary: if it should just be during the pandemic, or in certain other circumstances, too.

The state will seek public comments on the proposed rule in July.

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Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.
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