Special Report

Every State's Plan to Reopen Schools in the Fall

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South Dakota

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

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Tennessee

The Tennessee Department of Education released several guidance documents for reopening schools. Schools are advised to review classroom configuration in order to make sure students can be at least 6 feet from one another and to organize students in cohorts for recreation and eating. The guidance also recommends cancelling all events that involve mass gatherings and checking staff and students for symptoms every day.

The guidelines include eliminations of buffets having students eat in their classrooms instead, staggered drop-off times, walking and biking to school whenever possible so fewer kids need bus transportation, and plans for one-way traffic in school’s hallways.

The Metro Nashville Public School districts will start the new academic year on August 4 online at least until Labor Day.

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Texas

Public schools will reopen for face-to-face instruction but students will be required to either wear masks or be subject to coronavirus testing. Parents who prefer to keep their children at home will have the option to enroll them in remote learning, according to Gov. Greg Abbott.

The Texas Education Agency will require that students attend at least 90% of the class days either physically or online to get credit. Parents have until two weeks before school starts to decide whether to send kids to school or sign up for virtual learning.

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Utah

The framework developed by Utah’s School Board is a combination of requirements and recommendations for schools to implement and consider ahead of reopening for students in the fall. Schools have 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, but masks are just recommended for students. Schools should maximize space between seating and desks, even if the separation has to be established with plexiglass barriers.

On July 28 the state’s largest teachers union called on Gov. Gary Herbert to keep schools closed in the fall for in-person instruction, saying teachers “cannot unnecessarily risk their lives by opening schools too soon.”

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Vermont

Schools in Vermont are expected to reopen after Labor Day, two weeks later than planned.

The state’s Agency of Education and Department of Health has released guidance on hygiene, social distancing, and containment strategies to help districts prepare for the upcoming academic year. Facial coverings will be mandatory in the building and outside when staying 6 feet apart cannot be maintained. Students and staff must sanitize their hands when they arrive, come back in from playing outside, and whenever they switch rooms.

Daily health checks will be performed during the cold weather months, with students and staff answering questions about how they feel and having their temperature taken. The DOE also encourages keeping students in cohorts and having teachers switch rooms as opposed to kids.