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How Will U.S. Students Learn in the 2020-2021 School Year: UPDATED

A look at what every state and major counties are doing to bring education to kids in the age of coronavirus and amid a pandemic.

Alabama

Alabama plans to reopen its schools on time for the Fall season.  K-12 public schools will reopen as early as August, though it is still unclear how many students and teachers will be returning for in-person instruction.  Alabama is also preparing a statewide virtual learning platform.

Alabama’s guidelines for returning to school in the Fall include designating a quarantine area for children who get sick at school, school nurses wearing N95 masks, parents checking kids’ temperature at home every morning, frequent checking and refilling of hand sanitizers, limiting the use of classroom materials to small groups, and the cleaning of school buildings and classrooms every day.

Jefferson County Schools:  Students can choose between in-person instruction, remote learning, or virtual learning (online instruction taught by an outside vendor).  If the state mandates 50% capacity, a blended model will combine in-person and remote learning to manage district needs.

Baldwin County Public Schools:  Students can choose between in-person instruction or virtual learning beginning on August 12.

Mobile County Public School System (MCPSS): MCPSS launched virtual and remote learning resources for parents and students.  Superintendent Threadgill announced that all district classes would begin remotely for the first quarter of the school year on September 1.

Alaska

Alaska schools will implement multiple social distancing strategies when they reopen through the Alaska Smart Start 2020 program.  The program includes extended school dismissals at the end of the school day.  Schools will also cancel all field trips, sports events, and extracurricular activities.  Alaska’s Department of Education (DOE) recommends that schools offer distance learning until local health officials certify that it is safe to reopen schools.

School districts are asking teachers and school staff to teach and reinforce healthy hygiene and ensure hygiene supplies are readily available throughout the building.  The Alaska DOE recommends both a designated staff person responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns and virtual or in-person training on how to support social distancing.

Anchorage School District (ASD):  Students can choose between in-person (ASD in School) and virtual options (ASD at Home).

Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District (MSBSD):  MSBSD prepared for at-home online learning, at-school learning, and a blended model.  The blended model will take effect in case of a mild area outbreak, with half the student body on-campus for one week and at-home the next week.

Fairbanks North Star Borough School District:  Students may choose between in-person instruction or virtual learning.

Arizona

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has delayed the reopening of in-person instruction until at least August 17, with schools having a choice to start classes online beforehand.  No in-person classes can begin before the August start date.

The Arizona Department of Education released a roadmap for the physical reopening of schools.  Staff would check students for symptoms, including temperature checks or confirming with families that students are COVID-19 symptom-free.

Arizona also recommends that schools organize classrooms to enable students to be at least 6 feet away from one another.  When physical distancing is not possible, students and teachers are advised to wear masks.  The Arizona DOE encourages reducing class sizes, designating drop-off times or locations, assigning seating to help track virus spread when someone contracts COVID-19, and closing shared spaces like dining halls and playgrounds.

Mesa Unified School District:  Remote learning will begin on August 4.  Resuming in-person instruction is a goal.

Tucson Unified School District:  Online instruction will begin on August 10.  Students who want in-person learning will be able to transition once it is deemed safe.

Peoria Unified School District:  Virtual instruction will begin on August 5 with the first three days as half days to help students acclimate to the fully online learning.  The District plans to return to in-person instruction, with no set date to do so.

Arkansas

The start of the new academic year has been delayed from August 13 until at least August 24 to give districts enough time to prepare for reopening.  The number of students attending classes in-person will depend on local conditions, including the severity of the outbreak and each District’s resources.  Remote teaching will be available to supplement traditional schooling.

Arkansas’s DOE propagated guidelines for each District and school in six areas of operation, including facilities, transportation, and student support.  The DOE advises schools to serve lunches in classrooms, determine how to prohibit congregation in hallways and cafeterias, and consider rotating teachers rather than students.  Children age ten and over who ride a school bus are required to wear a face covering.

Little Rock School District:  Students can choose to attend classes in-person or virtually for the 2020-2021 school year.  The District required parents to decide by August 7.  In video remarks released July 30, Superintendent Poore said that plans would remain fluid, based on guidance the District receives from the state and other officials.

Springdale School District:  Students can attend school in-person or online.

Bentonville Public Schools:  In-person instruction will resume, but students and teachers should be prepared to switch to online instruction if they become infected.  Full-time virtual learning is an option for students for the Fall semester.

California

Most California school districts plan to open in the Fall.  Schools are free to schedule according to needs.  However, the California DOE released a recommendation guidebook that included students alternating distance learning days with in-person days, mask-wearing, positioning desks at least 6 feet apart to minimize face-to-face contact between students, and checking temperatures every day.  The California DOE guidebook notes that schools should utilize campus spaces such as gyms, auditoriums, cafeterias, or the outdoors for instructional activities.

Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD:  LAUSD will start with a hybrid model to maximize in-person learning.  According to Superintendent Beutner, online instruction will have more structure, standards, and increased interaction between teachers and students.  Schools will provide one-on-one support, both in-person and online.

San Diego Unified School District:  Students will resume class on August 31 and can choose to attend school in person, online, or a combination of both.

Long Beach Unified School District:  Classes will begin on September 1, with students able to choose between in-person instruction and digital learning option(s).

Colorado

Colorado schools plan to reopen in September, with the Colorado Department of Education working on guidelines to help school district officials design safety plans.  Recommendations include dividing students into small groups if 6 feet physical distance cannot be maintained, directing the flow of student movement, and using physical barriers to decrease the risk of transmission.

Denver Public Schools:  In-person instruction is to resume on August 17.  Students can choose to participate in entirely virtual learning.

Jefferson County Public Schools:  Students can choose to resume in-person learning or remote learning.

Cherry Creek School District:  Students can resume in-person learning or continue online learning.  The District has developed a post-COVID-19 learning model wherein conventional school systems would resume.

Connecticut

Connecticut recently released a framework to reopen all school districts statewide in the Fall.  In-person classes are contingent upon the state’s successful COVID-19 containment efforts.  The state’s goal is to return to full-time instruction, but schools may be canceled to isolate COVID-19 outbreaks.

The framework advises schools to organize groups of students and teachers into cohorts, so each team functions independently as much as possible – allowing for continuity across platforms and modifications to scheduling.  The Connecticut DOE also urges the use of gyms and auditoriums as classrooms to maximize social distancing.  All persons inside school building must wear face coverings.

New Haven Public Schools:  Students would have the option to resume either in-person or online instruction for the Fall.

Bridgeport Public Schools: Students would resume in-person instruction in the Fall.

Hartford Public Schools (HPS): Students would have the option to resume in-person instruction in the Fall.  All in-person instruction in the District will follow the following safety measures:

  • All students and staff would wear masks in school.  HPS would provide masks;
  • In classrooms, physical distancing would be practiced to the extent possible;
  • PreK-8 students would be grouped in cohorts by grade level;
  • Regular handwashing/sanitizing would be required for all students and staff;
  • School buildings would be cleaned and sanitized daily;
  • School buses would serve all students eligible for transportation, and buses would be cleaned after each trip;
  • Meals:
    • Grades PreK-1 would start the year receiving their meals in the classroom;
    • Grades 2-12 would receive their meals in the cafeteria, with additional overflow spaces (if needed), with physical distancing.

Delaware

Delaware’s Department of Education announced guidance for reopening schools, which includes several opening scenarios based on community health.

Recommendations include:

  • requiring staff and students in grades 4-12 to wear masks;
  • recommending face coverings for children in Pre-K through third grade;
  • assigning individual desks (which should be facing the same direction);
  • minimizing or eliminating table seating;
  • directing the flow of people in hallways and corridors to one-way only;
  • using outdoor spaces if possible; and
  • allowing more time for recess to avoid crowding.

Red Clay Consolidated School District:  The District solicited public input through a survey.  No plans have been announced for the upcoming school year.

Christina School District:  There have been no official announcements about the 2020-2021 school year.  Superintendent Shelton said that their School Reopening Work Groups are still creating plans, but that he anticipates multiple scenarios such as returning to traditional learning, returning to remote learning, and the possibility of a hybrid model.

Appoquinimink School District:  No official plans have been announced for the 2020-2021 school year.

Florida

On July 6, the Florida Commissioner of Education signed an executive order reopening schools for in-person instruction in the Fall, unless barred by state or local health directives.  Schools in the Miami Dade district will be able to choose between daily attendance at school, full-time remote learning, or a combination of both.

In June, state education officials announced formal recommendations for school reopening, which include an incremental reopening of K-12 and postsecondary institutions for summer programs, with schools expanding to full capacity when the academic year starts in August.

The state also recommended redesigning the school day to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the coronavirus.  Redesign recommendations include keeping groups of students together throughout the day and converting cafeterias, libraries, gymnasiums, auditoriums, and outdoor areas into classroom space.  The use of indoor spaces includes students lunching in their classroom or outdoors and schools moving nonessential furniture and equipment out of classrooms to increase the distance between students.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools: Students have the option to attend classes in-person or virtually in August.

Broward County Public Schools: In preparation for classes resuming on August 19, Broward schools have launched a Parent University to acclimate parents to virtual learning and what the upcoming school year will look like for parents and students.

Hillsborough County Public Schools: Students can choose to participate in virtual or in-person instruction when classes resume on August 10.

Georgia

The Georgia Department of Education and Department of Public Health developed guidelines to help school districts plan strategies for reopening schools.  The guidelines focus on the health and physical requirements necessary for reopening school buildings.

The guidelines recommend creating walking zones for in-person drop-off with at least 6 feet of distance between staff and families, scheduling pick up times to limit the number of people at the same time and place, closing every other row of seats, and allowing one child to a seat on school buses.  Georgia also advises schools to require students to wash their desks daily and ban the sharing of pens and other writing materials.

Public schools in Atlanta will start the new school year online on August 24.

Gwinnett County Public Schools:  Students are set to begin classes on August 12 and can choose between in-person or virtual instruction.

Cobb County Schools:  The start of the school year has been delayed until August 17.  Students can choose between virtual and in-person instruction.

DeKalb County School District:  On July 13, Dekalb County released its results from stakeholder input surveys on reopening.  A plan was shared with the Dekalb School Board but has yet to be released.

Hawaii

The new academic year in Hawaii will start on August 4.  Students can return to classrooms for in-person instruction, study online, or use a blended model.  Hawaii’s guidelines for reopening schools this Fall include mask-wearing and social distancing.

Hawaii also recommends that schools keep students in the same groups every day and keep at least 3 feet between seats and tables or 6 feet if students are facing each other.  Hawaii is also advising schools to cancel field trips, organize more virtual activities, and serve meals in classrooms.

Idaho

Idaho’s back-to-school framework plans for students to return to classrooms.  The Idaho Department of Education recommends that schools in areas with a potential for a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases conduct daily health screenings, including temperature checks.

Several districts have released plans to use personal protective equipment, maintain social distancing, and enforce various sanitation measures.  Schools, as well as Boise State University, are planning to provide a hybrid learning environment in which schoolwork may be split between online classes and in-person instruction.

West Ada School District:  Students can choose between in-person and virtual instruction.

Boise Independent School District:  The shared reopening plan, released on July 18, details reopening plans for both elementary and secondary students that account for multiple scenarios. The District also decided specific plans and procedures for daily routines, such as operations and student feeding, to minimize spread.

Nampa School District:  Students can choose between in-person or online instruction.

Illinois

K-12 schools, community colleges, and higher education institutions are planning to resume in-person instruction for the upcoming academic year.  Districts will be given 2.5 million cloth face masks for students, teachers, and other staff.  For schools to reopen, Illinois’s Department of Public Health requires that schools ban more than 50 individuals from gathering in one space, implement social distancing measures whenever possible, and conduct symptom screenings and temperature checks.  Illinois has advised school districts to prepare for a return to remote instruction in case of a resurgence of coronavirus cases in the Fall.  Many districts are implementing various methods of learning, including having students in classrooms two days a week (facial coverings required) with another two days of online learning.

Community colleges that open for in-person classes will require that students, faculty, and staff wear face coverings.

Chicago Public Schools:  While no official plan has been announced, district guidance states that families should expect to receive the final reopening framework with detailed remote learning expectations very soon.  Teachers and principals would receive specialized training and guidance on expectations for remote learning, and schools would follow a remote learning plan through the end of the first quarter.  The District hopes to adopt a hybrid learning model for the second academic quarter, beginning Monday, November 9.

School District U-46:  There is no concrete plan for the beginning of the school year, but Superintendent Tony Sanders implied the District would likely be relying on distance and hybrid learning models.

Rockford Public Schools:  No official plan has been announced, but district guidance states that in-person learning will continue.

Indiana

Indiana schools plan to reopen in September for the new academic year.  Indiana’s Department of Education recommends that schools conduct daily temperature screenings, use assigned seating to make potential contact tracing easier, and create individual health plans.

Indiana is asking schools to alternate days or half days to minimize the number of students in a building and provide in-person instruction to elementary students but offer more remote learning opportunities for secondary grade levels.  Indiana is also asking schools to schedule restroom breaks to avoid overcrowding.

Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS): IPS pushed its start date to August 17.  Its current plan is to provide both in-person learning and full-time remote learning options for families.

Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation: Students would resume in-person instruction on August 5, but students who need to quarantine and those with health issues would be able to pursue online instruction.

Iowa

In mid-July, Governor Kim Reynolds said that schools must conduct at least 50% of classes in-person when they reopen for the new academic year in the Fall; however, online programs will be available if parents do not want to send their children into schools.

Iowa’s guidance for safely reopening schools does not recommend face masks; however, the Iowa DOE called for schools to allow students and staff to don a face-covering with which they felt most comfortable.

Des Moines Independent Community School District:  Students can choose to participate in an exclusively online model of instruction from August 26 to October 28, or they can begin using a hybrid model.

Cedar Rapids Community School District:  Students have three educational options:  in-person, short-term virtual, and permanent virtual.  Elementary students can choose between in-person or short-term virtual.

Davenport Community School District:  The school year will begin on August 24 with all Kindergarten through 12th Grade students enrolled in a Hybrid Model.  Parents/Guardians have the option to request 100% online learning for a minimum of at least the first semester.

Kansas

Schools in Kansas will not reopen until after Labor Day.  Governor Laura Kelly said that once schools do open, the stat will enforce mask-wearing, temperature checks, and social distancing.  The Kansas State Board of Education allows each school district to decide independently what the academic year will look like and the requirements for school reopening.

Wichita Unified School District:  A preliminary plan announced on June 30 detailed the District’s intent to resume in-person instruction.  Parents would also have the option to enroll students in online learning.

Olathe Public Schools:  Students would resume classes on August 13 or 14.  Parents can choose to enroll their children in virtual or in-person instruction.

Shawnee Mission School District:  Draft plans for elementary, middle, and high schoolers give students the option of in-person or online learning.

Kentucky

In its new guidance for school facilities, the Kentucky Department of Education calls for maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet between students, teachers, and staff during the day.  The Department released a calculator to help schools determine how many students should be allowed in a classroom.

Kentucky would also require schools to mark hallways and stairways with “lanes” for traffic flow and display social distancing reminders.  Kentucky is also recommending that school officials advertise the precise times each building would be open to receive students, and student dismissal should be staggered to avoid crowding.

Fayette County Public Schools:  Students are expected to resume in-person instruction with a new model of on-campus, face-to-face instruction during the week of August 24.

Boone County Schools:  Students are expected to return to an in-person instruction at the beginning of the school year but should be prepared for a virtual or hybrid model if necessary.

Louisiana

Louisiana’s Department of Education warns that it is inevitable that some students will be infected with COVID-19 and asks that the schools require students, teachers, and staff that have been in contact with infected children stay home for two weeks.  Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education released rules for reopening schools in the Fall, including requiring students to wear masks and wash hands at least every two hours, and requiring schools to group students in cohorts.  Louisiana recommends that schools start the school year with a classroom of 10 people, including adults, and eventually expand to 25 and 50.  Louisiana also identified screening students for sickness upon arrival and not allowing visitors within buildings as “best practices.”

Jefferson Parish Public Schools:  Students are set to resume in-person classes on August 6.  Teachers are to prepare for using hybrid and virtual models as well.

East Baton Rouge Parish Public Schools:  Students would either begin school virtually on August 6, with the option to resume in-person instruction through a hybrid model on September 9 or start with the hybrid model.  The hybrid model would provide students in-person instruction two days a week and virtual instruction three days a week.

Caddo Parish Public Schools:  Caddo Parish schools have three plans for reopening.  Students could take classes virtually, in-person, or a combination of both.  The District has not yet announced the primary model they plan to use.

Maine

The Maine Department of Education has released an initial framework for schools opening in September.  Maine would consider schools ready to reopen if they meet required criteria, such as being able to screen students and employees for symptoms, being ready to intensify cleaning and disinfection, and being prepared to increase spacing and to keep students in small groups.  Maine would recommend that schools consider flexible grouping and interdisciplinary courses, along with remote learning methods.

Portland Public Schools:  Portland Public Schools have three scenarios for student return: students would resume in-person instruction, completely virtual instruction, or a hybrid of the two.

Lewiston Public Schools (LPS):  LPS announced a “blended learning plan” focused on remote learning.

Bangor School Department:  The Department expects students to resume in-person instruction in the Fall.

Maryland

The Maryland Department of Education has six requirements before schools reopen — daily health screening for symptoms; physical distancing; mask requirements for adults; proper hygiene training; personal protective equipment for school nurses and other staff; and isolating at home, if sick.

The Maryland DOE reopening recommendations include staged student arrivals with students coming to school for two to three days a week and have longer days at school.  Maryland also recommends that elementary students should return to schools first, with students in middle and high school taking online classes.  After a week, “or when health officials deem it safe,” students in higher grades can return to in-person classrooms.  Another recommended option is to have all students come in for two full days and do homework or remote learning for the other three days.

Montgomery County Public Schools:  No official plans have been announced for the 2020-2021 school year, but the District launched a survey for stakeholders to gather input.  The results have not yet been released.

Prince George’s County Public Schools: After gathering stakeholder survey results and releasing them, PGCPS announced that it would reopen with distance learning only in the Fall.

Baltimore County Public Schools:  All schools would be providing services remotely, but no specific plans for the upcoming school year have been published.

Massachusetts

The new academic year has been postponed for two weeks and cut from 180 to 170 days.  All schools must resume classes in-person, online, or a hybrid of the two by September 16.

In-person elementary schools should keep students in the same group throughout the day.  Middle and high schools are strongly urged to minimize student group mixing whenever possible.  All students in second grade or older are required to wear a face-covering, and those who cannot are encouraged to wear a mask or a face shield.  There is no maximum number for class size if students can be at least 6 feet apart.  Temperature checks are not recommended due to false-positive and false-negative results.

Boston Public Schools:  Released draft reopening plans at the beginning of August outline either remote learning or hybrid learning as options.

Springfield Public Schools:  The District announced on August 6 that it plans to operate entirely remotely for the first school marking period.

Worcester Public Schools:  No official plans have been announced, and a survey was sent out to parents.

Michigan

Michigan has released an EO mandated roadmap to reopen schools in the Fall.  However, these plans may be put on hold, according to Governor Gretchen Witmer.

The roadmap sets minimum health and safety requirements that apply to all schools: public, charter, private, and parochial schools.  Districts can enact more rigorous rules if they choose.  Of those requirements, all desks should be facing the same direction toward the front of the classroom and should be at least 6 feet apart.  Schools must close if their region is in an area with the highest risk of COVID-19 with athletics, after-school activities, and inter-school activities not allowed.  Online classes must be available in case of closure.  When schools open, face masks will be required outside of meals.  Exceptions will be made if a mask cannot be medically tolerated.

Detroit Public Schools Community District: Students can choose in-person instruction or virtual instruction.

Utica Community Schools: Students will start the school year with in-person instruction, completely virtual instruction, or a blended model of the two.

Dearborn Public Schools: The School Board will vote on August 10 on school reopening plans.

Minnesota

Minnesota’s health and safety guidelines require the creation of three different contingency plans based on possible scenarios for an outbreak in the state: in-person learning for all students, hybrid learning, and remote learning.

In-person learning will emphasize as much space between students and teachers as possible.  Extracurricular programming is allowed so long as the COVID-19 Sports Guidance for Youth and Adults is followed.  In hybrid learning, schools must limit the overall number of people in the building and on school buses to 50% maximum occupancy or less, especially if students and staff cannot consistently be at least 6 feet apart.

Anoka-Hennepin School District:  Anoka-Hennepin Schools are planning to start the 2020-21 school year with a hybrid learning model.

St. Paul Public Schools:  Students are expected to resume classes on September 8 or 10 in an in-person, virtual, or hybrid format.  Specifics have not yet been announced.

Minneapolis Public Schools:  Minneapolis will be releasing detailed information on their Distance Learning plan soon, and students will resume classes on September 8 or September 10 depending on age.

Mississippi

Schools will reopen throughout Mississippi, despite some delays pushed back with Governor Reeves issuing an executive order to delay the start of school for students in 8 counties. School districts have released reopening plans, which include in-person classes with parents having the option to enroll their kids in online classes.

Superintendents’ guidelines will be updated every three months.  If students, teachers, and staff can maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance, they can be physically present in school.  Daily temperature checks and limiting students’ movement and gatherings are strongly encouraged.

A hybrid reopening calls for students to split into two groups that come to school on alternating days and study online when in the school buildings.  The guidelines also allow for elementary students present for in-person instruction, while students in higher grades complete their schoolwork entirely online.

DeSoto County School District: Students are set to resume in-person classes on August 6, but parents can also choose to enroll their kids in online instruction.

Jackson Public School District: JPS released the District’s virtual learning plan.

Rankin County School District: RCS released their “Smart Restart Plan” document, which outlines how students will safely return to in-person learning with physical partitions and barriers between desks and masks required during certain times of the day.

Missouri

Not all schools in Missouri may reopen in September.  The state’s DOE allows every school district to decide when to resume classes.  Some are even starting before the end of August.  The state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s guidelines for reopening schools include recommendations for health screenings, physical distancing, and face coverings.

The Missouri School Boards Association’s guide for reopening schools includes alternate school days to minimize the number of students in the school building, limit extracurricular activities, cancel close-contact or high-volume team sports, minimize class sizes, move classrooms outdoors, and requiring students to remain seated in assigned seats at all times.

Springfield Public School District: Students are set to begin school on August 24.  On August 5, SPS released a letter detailing district priorities and describing the hybrid learning model it would implement for every grade level.

St. Louis Public Schools: SLPS announced that classes would resume virtually for all students, with families having different virtual learning options from which to choose.

Rockwood School District: After initially saying families would have a choice between online and in-person classes, Superintendent Miles announced that Rockwood would only offer online classes.

Montana

Reopening schools in Montana will include three phases.  The first phase involves limiting the number of students in the school building with extracurricular activities and assemblies of any kind canceled.  Schools should have study packets ready with suggested activities in case school has to close due to an outbreak.  Recommendations for procedures include temperature checks, screening for symptoms, having good hygiene posters in classrooms and communal areas, requiring students to wash hands at regular intervals, and using face coverings for all students and staff.

Billings Elementary School District: Billings is currently soliciting stakeholder input on their reopening plans; however, they will be opting into remote instruction.

Great Falls Elementary School District: Great Falls has released their Fall remote learning plans, which include how students can get food delivered.

Nebraska

Nebraska has created a website, launchne.com, updated regularly with recommendations for school districts reopening for the upcoming academic year.  Recommendations include changing air filters regularly, making visitors wash their hands before entering the school, controlling entrances to avoid overcrowding, posting signs about hygiene in communal areas, and frequently cleaning and disinfecting playgrounds.

Omaha Public Schools: On June 26, the District unveiled their plans to divide students into two groups.  Each group will attend in-person classes half of the week, on different days of the week.  The District also outlined three different learning models that utilize fully remote and hybrid instruction, as well.

Lincoln Public Schools: Lincoln Public School said it has plans to have students return in the Fall but with a 50% capacity plan and allowing for fully remote learning upon request.  On August 3, the District announced it was accommodating many remote learning requests.

Millard Public Schools: On August 4, MPS released their updated protocols and procedures for reopening.  These incorporate staggered student attendance and rotating schedules and opportunities for concurrent remote learning for students that opt-in.

Nevada

At the beginning of June, Nevada DOE released a framework for reopening in the Fall.  The Nevada DOE suggests that each school work with local health officials to develop a screening plan, possibly including checking everyone for symptoms and daily temperature checks.  Recommendations include face coverings for both staff and students when maintaining 6 feet is not possible, and signs about proper handwashing and other ways to stop the virus spread in visible locations such as school entrances and restrooms.

Clark County School District: CCS released a digital guide for students and families on how the District plans to stay connected to students and provide services.  The District intends to implement a full-time remote learning model.

Washoe County School District: The District’s board of trustees approved a plan to return to school for 2020 if COVID-19 levels remain low and if the Nevada State Board of Education approves the reopening plan.  Middle schools and high schools intend to operate at 50% capacity with students attending in-person instruction for half the week with hybrid learning, rotating schedules, and in-person safety and PPE recommendations.

Elko County School District: A reopening task force formed in early June, which released a survey, but a decision has not been made.  Survey results were publicly released.

New Hampshire

Governor Chris Sununu released guidelines for the safe reopening of schools in the Fall with desks to be placed 3 to 6 feet apart, daily health screenings of students and educators, and plans for both in-person and online learning.  Masks are highly recommended, but not required.  Classrooms should be arranged so that students cannot sit in groups, all desks should face in the same direction, and students should have assigned seats.

Schools can also create plans for reopening for the new academic year.

Manchester School District: MSD released a parent survey asking stakeholders about their preferences in fall learning.  Results were split between the three options, all remote, all in person, and hybrid.  Parents currently have the option to opt-in to all remote learning.

Nashua School District: Nashua is in the process of getting Chromebooks in the hands of every student.  Parents have a choice between remote learning or hybrid learning for each of their children for the first half of the school year.

Concord School District: The Concord School Board voted for remote learning for the Fall.

New Jersey

New Jersey schools plan to welcome students back for in-person instruction in September if health data allows.  The DOE released a guideline for reopening, but each District is developing its reopening plans.

Schools must prepare for social distancing whenever possible and should provide physical guides, such as tape on floors or sidewalks and signs on walls, to help keep people at least 6 feet apart.  Other recommendations include screening students and employees for symptoms of and history of exposure to COVID-19.  Physical education classes should also place in marked areas to ensure physical distance between students.  School districts have been permitted to design alternate schedules to mix remote and in-person classes if they do not have enough space to allow proper social distancing between all returning students.  Governor Phil Murphy also said any parent who wants to should be able to opt their child into online-only learning.

Newark Public School District: NPS released its reopening plan on August 5.  Students will return to entirely in-person learning in the Fall, with procedures, guidelines, and requirements for screenings, distance and barriers, and PPE.  Options are provided for families to choose remote learning.

East Orange School District: East Orange has its first full day of school scheduled for September 8, and the District has released a parent survey on schooling options that closes on August 10.

Irvington Public Schools School District: The place where Governor Phil Murphy unveiled his plan to close the digital divide for students in front of local Freeholder/Murphy for Governor campaign manager Brendan Gill has yet to unveil its reopening plan.  Irvington has released a multilingual parent, staff, and faculty reopening survey.

Manchester School District: Parents can opt into remote only instruction but must do so by August 14.  In-person learning has a mask requirement.

New Mexico

The New Mexico Public Education Department plans to reopen schools in phases and starting in August with a hybrid model.  In-person classes are limited to 50% of classroom capacity.  Large group gatherings are to be avoided, social distancing requirements must be met, and face coverings are required for all students and staff, with health exceptions.

In-person learning is prioritized for elementary students, while older students can study online.  Another option is for schools to form student groups that attend school only on certain days to limit group/student mixing.  Schools should consider daily temperature checks, and all staff should submit to coronavirus testing.

Albuquerque Public Schools: APS released three different student learning models: red (entirely virtual/remote), yellow (hybrid), and green (entirely in person with proper safety protocols), which depend on pandemic data in the region and the recommendations of the New Mexico Department of Health and the Public Education Department.

Las Cruces Public Schools: The District plans to begin the year with a hybrid model with a maximum 50% attendance policy.  As a preventative measure, the District is asking parents to immunize their children before August 12.

Rio Rancho Public Schools: The District has released plans for two plans, all virtual and hybrid, the choice of which is dependent on safety data and state guidance.

New York

According to Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York state will reopen based on regional conditions. Schools in areas that are in phase 4 of reopening can resume in-person instruction if the daily infection rate is below 5%, using a 14-day average after August 1.  The state guidelines include mandatory face coverings if physical distance cannot be maintained, repurposing facilities to allow for more spaces between students during class, and having a plan to move to a hybrid model of learning if necessary.

Schools in New York City will not fully reopen in September.  Students will have in-person instruction one to three days a week.

North Carolina

Schools in North Carolina will open with reduced capacity.  Teachers and students K-12 must wear face masks or other face covering.  Health screenings, including temperature checks, are required.  Some of the Department of Health and Human Services recommendations include one-way hallways, cohorting students, delivering meals to students in their classroom, and having physical barriers at reception desks.  Activities that bring people together will not be allowed.

Schools are mandated to provide online classes to students who have COVID-19 or who have been exposed to the coronavirus.  The DOE issued additional recommendations such as schools appoint one person to be the COVID-19 point of contact, and on school buses, students must be seated 6 feet apart and wear a face covering.

Wake County Schools: The Wake County Public Schools System school board voted to initiate the state’s “Plan B” option for reopening.  The plan divides students into three rotating groups. Students can opt into remote only learning, as well.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools: After creating various reopening plans with a full reopening, a partial reopening, and a fully remote model, CMS has opted into a fully remote learning model, their “Plan C.”

Guilford County Schools: On June 7, the District approved two plans for virtual learning. However, by July 28, GCS decided that students will all learn remotely through October 20 or longer.

North Dakota

Schools in North Dakota can open for in-person instruction after local health officials approve each school district’s safety plan for reopening and for remote learning.  Schools are advised to post signs on how to stop the spread of the virus, would remind people to wash their hands properly, and properly wear a face mask.  More recommendations include face coverings for all students and staff, especially when physical distancing is challenging to maintain.

Students and staff should be in the same group every day as much as possible to restrict the mixing of students.  Group sizes should be no more than 15 people.  Desks should be at least 6 feet apart.  All field trips, inter-group events, and extracurricular activities are canceled.  Large areas such as gyms and playgrounds can be used to hold classes to maintain physical distance.

Bismarck School District No. 1: The District is moving forward with in-person learning with a School Reentry Plan approved by the school board on July 30.

Fargo Public Schools: FPS’s Smart Restart Instructional Plan committee produced five levels of instruction based on community needs.  The committee plans to meet every two weeks to review COVID-19 community data and state recommendations.  Students have the option to choose virtual-only learning.

Ohio

The Ohio Department of Education’s recommendations for reopening schools includes enforcement of safety precautions such as washing hands and maintaining social distancing. Masks or face coverings will be mandatory for staff and recommended for students.

Columbus City School District: On July 28, CCS announced that all students, pre-k through 12, will begin the school year in a completely virtual environment.

Cleveland Metro School District: According to a formal statement from the CEO, CMS will be reopening in a remote learning environment.  The schools released a library of guidance to help parents, caregivers, and students.

Cincinnati Public School District: After initially calling for schools to start back up with a hybrid model, CPS decided on a remote/virtual-only environment.  CPS will review community health data the week of September 14 to decide whether to continue with that model.  The District hopes to return to a hybrid model by September 28.

Oklahoma

The Oklahoma State Department of Education has published a framework for school districts with recommendations such as temperature self-screenings at home to reduce lines before entering school, masks and other face coverings encouraged for both staff and students, and signs showing proper handwashing placed above sinks and throughout the building.

School districts should be prepared for sudden closure amid a COVID-19 outbreak in the school.  These plans should cover short-term closures of a few days, mid-term closures of a few weeks, and longer-term closures.  Districts should be ready to offer online learning and consider alternative school calendars to allow for flexibility in responding to the pandemic.

Oklahoma City Public Schools: OKCPS is offering families two options for remote learning to begin the school year entirely online.  One, the Traditional Learning – Contingency Plan or Remote Learning, features teacher-driven remote instruction done online in small classroom-based groups.  Remote learning will be reevaluated halfway through the first nine weeks of school and whether students can return to the classroom.  Option 2 is called e3 Online Learning, with two student-paced online learning platforms based on grade.  OKCPS is also getting every student set up with virtual learning devices.

Tulsa Public Schools: Despite previously settling on a hybrid model, TPS is now opting to do only distance learning for the first nine weeks of the school year.  To do so, schools are issuing a laptop to every student in need.

Edmond Public Schools: The school board voted that students who are not currently enrolled in the Virtual Edmond platform will start the school year by attending in-person classes two days a week and taking remote classes three days a week.  Students engaged in in-person learning will also be divided into student groups on rotating schedules so that buildings stay at 50% capacity.

Oregon

On July 28, Governor Kate Brown said schools might not open for in-person instruction at all.

State officials had previously created a Healthy Schools Reopening Council so various members of the community could have a chance to provide feedback to school districts as they plan.  Schools are required to designate a person responsible for enforcing physical distancing requirements.  Schools also must have a protocol to screen students and staff for COVID-19 symptoms.

The DOE recommends that schools create opportunities for students to interact with other students who are not able to be physically present for in-person instruction, including via distance learning.  Adding cameras in classrooms to allow interaction between students in the school and those studying from home has been discussed.

Portland Public Schools: PPS announced that classes would be online until at least November 5 for pre-K through 12.

Salem-Keizer School District: SKS announced that the school year would start with comprehensive distance learning for the first nine weeks of the school year with in-person instruction, possibly beginning around November 16.  The schools had previously created two pathways for schools reopening through a hybrid model and an entirely virtual option called the EDGE Program.

Beaverton School District: Beaverton is offering two options: Students can do a hybrid model with in-person learning in smaller groups alternating with remote learning or enroll in a fully online education program called FLEX Online School.

Pennsylvania

On July 7, Governor Tom Wolf announced that schools planning to open classrooms have to make masks mandatory for staff and students unless there is enough room for physical distancing.

Pennsylvania’s Department of Education released guidance for reopening schools where the DOE expects students to return to classrooms for the new academic year.

Restrictions on how to start the school year depend on the phase of reopening where the school district is located.  Pennsylvania has three phases: red, yellow, and green.  Schools in “red” counties only provide remote learning.  Schools in “yellow” counties can open for in-person instruction if students at least 6 feet apart.  Schools in “green” counties can physically open with lesser restrictions.

Recommendations include having a pandemic coordinator, flexible attendance policies, checking for COVID-19 symptoms before entering the school, all staff wearing masks, and making regular announcements on how to stop the spread of the virus.

Philadelphia City School District: Superintendent William Hite Jr. pushed school start to September 7 to allow teachers more familiarity with remote and digital teaching.  All students will learn remotely for the first marking period until November 17.  The District is then intending to move to a hybrid learning model so long as health conditions permit.

Pittsburgh Public Schools: The District formed 14 subcommittees to decide the determinates for the four categories of their reopening plan.  Students can choose between the In-School Model, a hybrid environment, or an E-Learning Model, which combines both online teacher-led instruction and independent student work.

Central Bucks School District: The District issued a survey on returning to in-person instruction, but the final plan will likely be determined at the board’s July 28 meeting.  Elementary learning options include 100% in-person or a hybrid of two days in person and three days online.  Secondary education can either be CB Online Academy, a fully online option, or a hybrid of 2 days in person and three days online.

Rhode Island

On June 19, state officials released school guidance for the 2020-2021 academic year.  The guidance includes schools preparing for distance learning, even just for students who are sick or quarantined.  Class sizes should be reduced for students to be seated at least 6 feet apart with limited socializing and strongly encouraged assigned seating.  If students cannot stay 6 feet apart, they are required to be masked.

Other recommendations include students in elementary and middle school placed in groups of no more than 30 that will not mix with other groups and stable groups recommended for high school.

Cranston Public Schools: Cranston school district will decide on August 17, which of their four plans to return they will choose.  Options range from full return with health measures indicated from the Governor and RIDOH to all students fully utilizing distance learning from home.

Warwick Public Schools: WPS has planned for three scenarios, determined by community health factors, which include hybrid, full distance, and all in-person learning.  In its planning and recommendations, the District has tried to prevent siblings from attending public buildings on different days.

South Carolina

The state’s Department of Education has approved the reopening plans of six school districts with measures ranging from offering full-time in-person instruction for elementary school with small groups to a blended model involving live-streamed classes and pre-planned online courses.

The South Carolina task force in charge of developing a guide for reopening the schools recommends social distancing in classrooms and buses, that both students and teachers wear masks, to limit interaction among students, and one school nurse for every 750 students.

Greenville County School District: GCS is offering in-person and virtual returns to school. District guidance states that the goal of the administration is to return to in-person education five days a week.  The District is also offering personalized remote learning via GCS Virtual and a vendor-based eLearning option.

Charleston County School District: The District has released several videos detailing and updating their return to school plans.

Horry County Schools: HCS has a three-phased reopening plan ranging from social distancing in-person education through hybrid to distance learning depending on local health data.

South Dakota

South Dakota’s DOE recommends that schools plan for fully remote learning in case some students test positive or the school has to be closed for days, allowing extra time for handwashing and sanitizing throughout the day, replacing touch equipment with touchless equipment, and wearing personal protective equipment.

Sioux Falls School District: SFS has created three District led options, in person, remote, and hybrid, capped with an additional fully remote option led by a vendor.  Local health factors determine district led options.

Rapid City Area School District: RCAS pushed the first day of school back to September 8 and announced additional forthcoming plans.

Harrisburg School District: HSD is offering distance learning courses, but students can also opt in to an in-person learning model.  Once students opt into a model, they cannot switch decisions.

Tennessee

The Tennessee Department of Education released guidance documents for schools which advise:

  • reviewing classroom configurations to ensure social distancing,
  • organizing students in cohorts for recreation and eating,
  • canceling all events that involve mass gatherings,
  • staggering drop-off times,
  • walking and biking to school whenever possible,
  • planning for one-way traffic in schools’ hallways, and
  • checking staff and students for symptoms every day.

The guidelines eliminate cafeteria buffets and have students eat in their classrooms.

Shelby County Schools: Shelby County school district will families the choice of how they want to start the school year on August 4.

Metro Nashville Public Schools: The District started the year in a virtual setting until Labor Day, at which point it will reevaluate.

Knox County Schools: KCS has pushed the first day of school back to August 24.

Texas

Public schools will reopen for in-person instruction with students required to either wear masks or be subject to COVID-19 testing.  Parents who prefer to keep their children at home can enroll students in remote learning and have until two weeks before school starts to decide whether to opt into virtual learning.  The Texas Education Agency requires students to attend at least 90% of the class days physically or online to get credit.

Houston Independent School District: All HISD students will begin the new school year virtually on September 8.

Dallas Independent School District: The start of the school year is September 8.  The community COVID-19 threat evaluated closer to the start of school will determine whether the District offers online learning only when the school first starts or have the option of in-person or online learning.

Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District: The District currently intends to resume on-campus education while also providing remote offerings through CFISD Connect.

Utah

Utah’s School Board framework is a combination of requirements and recommendations for schools to reopen.  Schools are to appoint one person as a point of contact for all COVID-19-related concerns, teachers and staff have to wear masks if it is difficult to maintain 6 feet of distance, masks are generally recommended for students, and schools should maximize space between seating and desks or separated by plexiglass barriers.

Alpine School District: Schools will return to in-person instruction with an online-only offering for those who request.

Davis School District: The District recently outlined its intentions to return for in-person instruction on August 25 with a plan known as “The Big Five.” The name refers to the five main safety precautions: hygiene etiquette, staying home when sick, cloth face masks, physical distancing, clean and disinfect.

Granite School District: Both distance learning and in-person options are provided based on health concerns.

Vermont

Vermont schools are slated to reopen after Labor Day, two weeks later than usual.  The state’s Agency of Education and the Department of Health released joint guidance on hygiene, social distancing, and containment strategies to help prepare for the upcoming school year.  Facial coverings are mandatory in buildings and outside when staying 6 feet apart cannot be maintained.  Students are to be kept in cohorts and have teachers switch rooms.  Students and staff must sanitize their hands frequently throughout the daily routine, and daily health checks will be performed during the wintry weather months.  The screenings consist of students and staff answering questions about how they feel and having their temperature taken.

Champlain Valley School District: In the first weeks of August, CVSD is hosting virtual town halls to solicit stakeholder input on their reopening.  The District has already put forth some of their planning concerns and priorities.

Burlington School District: Burlington School District is implementing a distance e-learning plan effective March.

South Burlington School District: The district classrooms reopen September 8, and most will be operating in Step 2, their hybrid learning model.  Other steps include Step 1 Remote Learning and Step 3 Modified In-Person.  Depending on health conditions, schools may opt into different steps.

Virginia

Virginia’s plan to reopen schools in the Fall involves three phases utilizing a hybrid model of in-person and remote learning.  In phase 1, most schoolwork will be done online with classes limited to 10 people, extracurricular activities canceled, and communal areas like cafeterias closed.

Phase 2 allows some extracurricular activities and gatherings no more than 50 people.  Phase 3 allows more in-person instruction with supplemental online classes.  All phases recommend daily health screenings, along with distance learning options for high-risk students and wearing face coverings.

Virginia Beach City School District: Families can choose between three options: in-person, hybrid, and all-remote.

Fairfax County Public Schools: The District will begin virtual learning classes for all students on September 8.  The District will continue to monitor local health conditions and determine the safest manner for students to resume in-person instruction.

Prince William County Public Schools: The Prince William County School Board adopted a Return to Learning Plan that will have the first quarter of the school year as all virtual learning for most students.  The first quarter will start for students on September 8, 2020, ending October 30, 2020.  The goal will be to transition to a 50% capacity model in the second quarter, with the option for students to remain virtual.

Loudoun County Public Schools: LCP decided they would return with 100% Distance Learning Models and to implement the hybrid model in stages depending on local health conditions.

Washington

Washington follows the state’s Safe Start program, which involves reopening in phases on a county-by-county basis.  Some schools may open in the Fall for in-person instruction, and others may not.

Schools are supposed to develop a system for parents dropping off and picking up students, temperature checks, and symptoms screenings should be done every day, and schools should cancel all field trips, assemblies, and activities.  Schools should also reduce the number of students in the halls.  Staff must wear face coverings, but students have the option to use face shields as an alternative.

Seattle Public Schools: Superintendent Juneau is recommending to the School Board that Seattle Public Schools start the 2020-21 school year remotely.  The school board votes on August 12.

Spokane School District: Families have two options, real-time remote learning with the option to transition to in-person when it is deemed safe and Spokane Virtual Academy with a preference to stay virtual.

Lake Washington School District: Most students will be learning remotely as the District continues to review available health data and state guidance.

West Virginia

Schools are to open for in-person instruction on September 8.  Staff and students older than nine are required to wear masks, a mirror of the statewide mandate.

The Board of Education has released guidelines for three scenarios, and a traditional Monday through Friday schedule is not an option.  Elementary schools should have a four-day school week, and students should be organized in cohorts, stay in the same classroom, and eat meals there.

Another scenario calls for high and middle school students to study in a hybrid environment.  The third scenario, only for emergencies such as a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, is remote learning only.

Kanawha County Schools: The District will provide three options for nearly all students.  Option 1 is five days in person, then a staggered or blended schedule, eventually transitioning to a full five-day schedule.  Option 2 is KCSchoology eLearning with a local district teacher all five days, while Option 3 allows students to self-pace on the KCS Virtual Program.

Berkeley County Schools: As of August 7, BCS was in the process of responding to FAQs and sharing information.  Students have the Brick (in person) or Click (virtual) pathways from which to choose.

Cabell County Schools: The Cabell County Schools Back to School 2020 plan includes options for full virtual learning for students in grades K-12; a blended learning model where students attend school two days a week on a Monday/Tuesday or Wednesday/Thursday schedule with the other three days of at-home remote learning; and the option of a five day a week traditional model of at-school learning.

Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released guidelines for school officials to plan in-person instruction at the start of the academic year.  According to state recommendations, the school week may only be four days, with schools closed on the fifth day for cleaning.  When students are not physically in classrooms, they would do schoolwork online.

A two-day rotation with students in school for two full days and remote learning the rest of the school week is another option.  At the same time, the state outlined a third option to rotate each week, with half of the students present for four full days with the other half studying online and switch the other week.

Milwaukee School District: The District has three phases of reopening, ranging from entirely virtual to entirely face-to-face learning.  Milwaukee Public Schools will begin the 2020-21 school year teaching and learning online.  Although the start of school will look different than before, we are excited about how we will embark on the academic school reopening at MPS.  Schools will follow the Early Start calendar, which begins August 17 and the Traditional calendar that will begin September 1.

Madison Metropolitan School District: The District will reopen schools entirely virtually for the start of the school year through at least October 30.

Kenosha School District: KSD will return entirely virtually with regular monitoring to determine when students and staff can return safely to in-person learning.

Wyoming

As of June 10, K-12 schools, colleges, and the University of Wyoming reopened for in-person classes for all students in groups no larger than 50 people.  Students within those groups must maintain physical distance.

The deadline for school districts to submit their plans for reopening to the Department of Education is August 3.  Plans must include three possible scenarios — full-time in-person instruction, full-time remote learning, or a combination of the two.  The DOE’s initial guidelines include having lunch in classrooms, wearing face coverings, and having specific groups use specific school entrances.

Laramie County School District No. 1:  The District has designed three different reentry plans depending on different scenarios.  Students may also choose to opt into different education programs from virtual to in-person depending on what the applicable reentry plans allow.

Natrona County School District No. 1:  The District is planning for in-person learning with significant restrictions and precaution.  Families also have the option to learn virtually.

Campbell County School District No. 1:  CCS produced three education models or tiers, ranging from in-person to entirely virtual.  The District will utilize different models or tiers depending on safety conditions within the community.

Federal

Public health experts have publicly challenged President Donald Trump’s push to reopen schools in the fall.  President Trump, in an interview, said children are “virtually immune” to Covid-19.  

Nevertheless, twelve of the country’s fifteen largest school districts have rejected White House calls to reopen, opting to hold classes virtually.  Congress is under pressure to study how children spread the disease, determine which mitigation measures are most critical, and make remote learning more effective.  Congress is also being asked provide $200 billion in aid for K-12 schools to cover shortfalls, assist with remote learning, and pay for cleaning.  A Senate Republican plan would have provided only $70 billion for K-12 schools and attached those funds to physical school reopening.

Separately, some schools have asked Congress to insulate schools that reopen from some negligence lawsuits, a plan that divides Republicans and Democrats.  With school reopenings inevitably causing Covid-19 infections, some schools fear ligation from students and workers.  Schools have been advised to ensure adherence to federal health and safety guidelines, which require monitoring and updating as Covid-19 protocols change.  Republican lawmakers, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chair of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, have for months refused to pass additional Covid-19 relief legislation without protection from lawsuits.

Senate Republicans proposed a measure in a coronavirus relief plan that would shield schools against liability claims.  Under the Republican bill, the standard for negligence would be increased, requiring plaintiffs to show a school was “grossly negligent” or “engaged in willful misconduct.”  Senator Patty Murray has said that liability immunity is a nonstarter for any bipartisan agreement.  Many K-12 schools, “are working hard to do the right thing—but no one should have a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card for not taking care of their students, faculty, and staff.”

Categories: COVID-19, Education