Several school districts including SAU 16 have asked for exemptions from Gov. Chris Sununu's executive order requiring public schools to return to five day a week classroom instruction on April 19 but will they get them?

Sununu issued the order on Thursday and said that while remote learning was a a "good backstop" during the pandemic it is not the same as being in person. He pointed out that 60% of students across the state are already back in classrooms two days a week. The governor also said that most teachers who received the COVID-19 vaccine will have received their second dose by the 19th.

In a letter to parents superintendent David Ryan said the waiver to return on May 3 as originally planned is for five larger schools that have been operating in two cohorts with in-person instruction every other day because of social distancing requirements.

Ryan said another factor was 129 staff members working remotely due to COVID-19 related employment accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. As part of an agreement between all the school boards that make up the SAU they would be fully vaccinated by May 3, the announced date for their return to classrooms.

"All of the planning and agreements were settled prior to the arrival of the latest emergency order," Ryan wrote, adding that Sununu's emergency order includes a provision for an exemption.

The Monadnock Regional School District and Manchester also want a waiver from the state.

Will the waivers be honored?

"The state will work with any district who may have extenuating circumstances that risk the health and safety of their staff or students, but we remain confident all school districts will be able to meet this goal," the governor's office told Seacoast Current in an email.

The governor's office said districts will have had plenty of time to prepare for an April 19 reopening and that the "vast majority" of teachers will have their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, noting that vaccinations are not required to reopen safely.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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