Return to School FAQ

McMahon school welcoming students back to in-person learning

Holyoke Public Schools is committed to a safe, positive, and productive School Year 2021-22.

To help answer questions about our Return to School Plan, we have provided this convenient FAQ page. Please check back regularly for updates.

Q: What are the school start and end times?

A: Visit our website to view the school start and end times.

Q: Are masks required indoors for students and staff?

A: Yes, except while eating and during mask breaks.

Q: Are vaccines required for staff and/or students ages 12+?

A: No, vaccines are not required, but they are strongly recommended.

Q: Is there a remote learning option?

A: No, students are expected to be physically in school everyday for full days, when healthy.  If your child is sick, please work with their teacher to make up missed work. 

Q: What if I’m not comfortable sending my child to school?

A: HPS does not have a virtual school option.  We encourage you to work with your child’s teacher and/or principal if you have specific concerns that we can partner with you to address.  Otherwise, families can either apply to a different district through that district’s school choice program or submit a homeschool application to HPS.   

Q: What are the physical distancing requirements? (Updated 9/10/21)

A: Although DESE has not given schools physical distancing requirements in schools or on busses, HPS is working to establish physical distancing.  Classroom furniture and students will be able to be 3 feet apart.  When physical distancing of 3 feet isn’t possible, even for a short period of time, it is especially important to be diligent about the other prevention strategies.  Adults must be 6-feet apart from each other.  

Q: With all the students back in school, what will breakfast and lunch look like?

In short, we are focusing on: physical distancing as much as possible, cohorting students, and improved ventilation/air flow.  We will have breakfast in the classroom (BIC) and lunch most often served in the cafeteria, although we will utilize additional spaces as well.  Each of our schools has a unique layout and schedule, so the solution will be customized to the school.  

Q: Will athletics be held?

A: Yes, we are offering all the fall sports that we did before the pandemic.  High school athletics will follow MIAA guidelines, which haven’t yet been released for Fall 2021.  Updated information can be found on the Athletics webpage, including fall tryouts.  HPS Middle School athletics/sports will most likely be school-based fitness and intramural athletics.

Q: Will extracurricular activities and after-school programming be held?

A: Yes.  Schools will still host extracurricular activities.  Contact your school for more details or visit the district’s Enrichment and Extended Learning webpage to learn more about Connections after-school program.

Q: Are uniforms required?

A: Schools will follow their pre-COVID uniform policy.  Contact your school with questions.

Q: How do I enroll my new student into HPS?

A: There are many ways.  Online:  Phone: Call Enrollment Center at 413-534-2000, option 1.  You can also call to book an in-person appointment at our main office, 57 Suffolk Street.

Q: Where are the bus routes?

A: The transportation webpage has the bus routes.  If you have questions, please contact your school or the department of transportation at 413-534-2000, extension 1640.

Q: What are the attendance expectations this year?

A: Please refer to the attendance webpage to read this year’s attendance policy.  In short, students need to attend class on time every day when healthy.

Q: What if my child is exposed to COVID-19?  Will they need to stay home from school?  (Updated 9/10/21)

A: If your child is a close contact to someone in school with a confirmed case of COVID-19, they are encouraged to participate in the “Test and Stay” program.  Under test and stay, asymptomatic individuals who were identified as close contacts at school will have the option to remain in school and be COVID rapid tested daily by the nurse for at least 7 days from the date of exposure. The staff member or student can remain in school as long as they remain asymptomatic, wear masks at all times other than eating or drinking, and monitor their symptoms through day 14, and self-isolate at home if symptoms develop. By opting into “Test and Stay,” your child or  the staff member may be able to remain in school.  Students or staff who are a close contact to someone outside of school with a confirmed case of COVID-19 are required to stay home for a quarantine period as directed by the school nurse and/or child’s health care provider.

Q: What if my child is required to quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19.  How will they keep up with their school work? (New question added 9/10/21)

A: In the event a student is feeling well enough to learn but is not permitted to attend school due to required isolation as a result of a positive COVID-19 case, HPS will provide the student remote access to learning. Please read the at-home instructional plan for students who need to quarantine due to positive COVID-19 cases.

Q: What is the quarantine protocol? (Updated 9/10/21)

A: Students and staff are required to quarantine per guidance from their school nurse and/or physician, unless the individual was a close contact to someone at school, is asymptomatic and agrees to participate in the Test and Stay program. 

Q: Will we have field trips?

A: After consulting with the local Board of Health (BOH), we believe we can have small, well-managed field trips, such as one classroom going to an outdoor location.  We do not anticipate being able to have large, multiclass field trips to indoor locations at this time.  As the pandemic evolves, we will update guidance after consulting with the BOH.

Q: Do adults who are vaccinated need to wear a mask indoors?

A: Yes.  All adults in school buildings need to wear a mask indoors, except for eating and during mask breaks or by themselves.

Q: What is the policy on visitors?

A: Although we are still limiting access to our school buildings from visitors, families can make appointments with their teacher or other staff members to come to the school as needed.   Meetings with families regarding students’ individual education plans, 504 plans and other education needs will primarily be held via video conference (e.g. Zoom, Google Hangouts).  Central Office is also available between 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., although appointments are strongly encouraged, especially if enrolling a new student.  Masks required.

Q: If there is a COVID case in my child’s school, what should I expect for communication? (Updated 9/10/21)

A: You will receive an email from the school to alert you if there is a case in the school.  If your child is a close contact, you will receive a phone call.

Contact Us

Questions? Please email us at:

Looking for COVID-19 information?

Check out our Health, Wellness, Nursing page for information on testing, vaccinations, and more.

District Resources

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