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Education Laws and Regulations

603 CMR 18.00:

Program and Safety Standards for Approved Public or Private Day and Residential Special Education School Programs


Most Recently Amended by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, December 16, 2014. Effective January 1, 2016.

18.04: Physical Facility and Equipment Requirements

(l) Safety Requirements and Inspections for Schools.

(a) Safety Inspection. The school shall have an appropriate certificate of inspection from the Department of Public Safety or the local building inspector for each building to which students have access.

(b) The school shall obtain a written report of an annual fire inspection from the local fire department. The school shall request fire inspections on a quarterly basis and maintain copies of such requests and inspections at the facility.

(2) Physical Facility/Kitchen Area.

(a) Kitchen Security. The school shall take measures consistent with the programmatic and developmental needs of its students to ensure the safe and secure storage of kitchen equipment, including major appliances.

(b) Required Maintenance. The kitchen shall be maintained in a sanitary condition, and garbage receptacles used in the kitchen shall be emptied and cleaned daily.

(3) Physical Facility/Dining Area.

(a) Dining Rooms or Areas. The school shall maintain dining rooms or areas which are sufficiently large to accommodate tables and seats for persons eating in an uncrowded manner and which are clean, well lighted and ventilated.

(b) Dining Furniture. The school shall provide tables and chairs for use by students while dining which are of a type, size, and design appropriate to the ages and needs of the students. When feeding tables or high chairs are used, they shall be designed to prevent students from falling or slipping.

(c) Dining Utensils. The school shall provide eating and drinking utensils which are appropriate to the age and needs of the students.

1. Eating and drinking utensils shall be free from defects, cracks and chips.

2. Disposable cups and plates may be used, but if plastic silverware is used, it shall be heavy duty and dishwasher proof.

3. All reusable eating and drinking utensils shall be thoroughly washed and sanitized before reuse.

(d) Drinking Water and Cups. The school shall provide a source of sanitary drinking water located in or convenient to rooms occupied by students. When non-disposable cups are used for drinking water, they shall be washed and sanitized after each use.

(4) Physical Facility/Bathing and Toilet Facilities.

(a) Equipment and Facilities. The school shall provide adequate numbers of toilet areas for students being served, and shall locate and equip toilet areas so as to facilitate maximum self-help by students. The school shall provide toilet and bathing equipment and facilities in accordance with the following provisions:

1. Water Temperature. The school shall provide both hot and cold running water in sinks, tubs, and showers. For preschool and severely disabled students the water temperature shall be no more than one hundred twenty degrees Fahrenheit and no less than one hundred ten degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature may be controlled through regulation of the boiler or a mixing valve in the faucet.

2. The school shall provide toilets which allow for individual privacy (with partitions and doors), unless inconsistent with a toilet training program.

3. The school shall provide bathing, handwashing and toileting fixtures which are specially equipped, if used by the physically handicapped.

4. The school shall provide mirrors at convenient heights for use by all students.

5. The school shall provide a place for storage of toiletries and for hanging towels and washcloths.

6. When adult toilets and sinks are used, the school shall provide non-tippable stands to permit access by those students who are able to use them.

7. In addition to toilets, portable "pottychairs" may be utilized in the bathroom or separate area for students unable to use toilets. If a separate area is used, it must be a private area.

8. If cloth diapers are used, a flush sink or toilet for rinsing diapers must be provided.

(b) Day Schools. In addition to the requirements outlined above, day schools shall provide and maintain one toilet and sink for every fourteen students in one or more well ventilated bathrooms or state why a lower ratio meets the needs of the school.

(c) Residential Schools. In addition to the requirements outlined above, residential schools shall provide:

1. At least one toilet for each six (6) residents, easily accessible to students in sleeping quarters;

2. At least one sink for each six (6) residents;

3. At least one tub or shower for each six (6) residents.

(5) Physical Facility/Living Areas.

(a) Arrangement of Living Areas. Schools shall design the living areas to simulate the functional arrangements of a home and to encourage a personalized atmosphere for small groups of students, unless the school can justify that another arrangement is necessary to serve the particular needs of the students enrolled in the school.

(b) Furnishings. The school shall provide furniture and furnishings which are safe, appropriate, comfortable, and home-like.

(c) Bedrooms. The school shall provide bedrooms which:

1. Have direct outside ventilation;

2. Provide at least fifty (50) square feet per student in multiple sleeping rooms, and not less than seventy (70) square feet in single rooms;

3. Have at least one window; and

4. Have a means for students to mount pictures on bedroom walls (for example, by means of pegboard or cork strips) and to have other decorations.

(d) Individual Furniture. The school shall provide each student with appropriate individual furniture, and an individual closet (or a designated section of a closet) with clothes racks and shelves.

(e) Storage Areas. The school shall provide accessible storage areas for personal possessions, such as toys, books, prosthetic equipment, pictures, games, radios, arts and crafts materials, toiletries, jewelry, letters, other articles and equipment, and a secure area for money and valuables.

(f) Common Areas. In addition to sleeping quarters, and space designated for specific activities, the school shall provide students with a lounge, living room, or family room available for their use.

(6) Physical Facility/Classroom Space. Each room or area which is utilized for the instruction of students shall be of an adequate size to accommodate the students being taught.

(a) The school shall ensure that the size of each classroom is adequate with respect to the number of students, size and age of students, and students' specific educational needs, physical capabilities, and educational and vocational activities.

(b) In addition to the regular instructional area, the school shall have a library or resource room which contains a variety of materials appropriate to the age and abilities of the students enrolled.

(7) Physical Facility/General Space Requirements.

(a) Indoor Space. The school shall have a minimum of thirty-five square feet of activity space per student exclusive of hallways, lockers, toilet rooms, isolation rooms, kitchen, closets, offices, or areas regularly used for other purposes, which shall meet the following requirements:

1. Floors of rooms used by students shall be clean, unslippery, smooth and free from cracks, splinters and sharp or protruding objects and other safety hazards, and those in direct contact with the ground shall have flooring impenetrable by water.

2. Ceilings and walls shall be maintained in good repair, and shall be clean and free from sharp or protruding objects and other safety hazards.

3. All steam and hot water pipes and radiators shall be protected by permanent screen guards, insulations, or any other suitable device which prevents students from coming in contact with them.

4. Room temperatures in rooms occupied by students shall be maintained at not less than sixty-eight degrees Fahrenheit at zero Fahrenheit outside and at not more than the outside temperature when the outside temperature is above eighty degrees Fahrenheit (measured at two feet from the outside walls and twenty inches above floor level).

5. There shall be designated space separate from classroom areas for administrative duties and staff or parent conferences.

(b) Outdoor Space. The school shall maintain or have access to an outdoor play area of at least seventy-five square feet per student using it at any one time. The average width of such a play area shall not be less than eight feet and shall conform to the following requirements:

1. Some part of the outdoor play area shall be accessible to direct sunlight.

2. It shall be free from hazards (e.g. hidden corners, unprotected poles, wells, cesspools, and steps); poisonous plants, (e.g. poison oak or ivy); and dangerous machinery or tools.

3. If any part is adjacent to a highway, a roof, a porch or other dangerous area, it shall be fenced with a non-climbable barrier at least five feet high.

4. It shall not be covered with a dangerously harsh or abrasive material.

(8) Physical Facility/Architectural Barriers.

(a) Requirements for Students with Limited Mobility. The school shall assure that students with limited mobility have access, free from barriers to their mobility, to those areas of the school buildings and grounds to which such access is necessary for the implementation of the IEPs for such students. All schools receiving federal funds shall meet the requirements of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

(b) Building Entrances. A school which enrolls students requiring wheel chairs shall have at least one entrance without steps and wide enough for a wheel chair, for each building utilized in carrying out the IEPs for such students.

For an official copy of these regulations, please contact the State House Bookstore, at 617-727-2834 or visit Massachusetts State Bookstore.

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