Special Report

Every State's Plan to Reopen Schools in the Fall

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Virginia’s plan to reopen schools in the fall involves three phases and a hybrid model in which some instruction will take place in person and some via remote learning. In phase 1, most of the schoolwork will be done online. Classes will be limited to 10 people, extracurricular activities will be canceled, and common areas like cafeterias will be closed.

Phase 2 allows for some extracurricular activities and gatherings of no more than 50 people. More in-person instruction will be allowed in phase 3, with online classes being only supplemental. Daily health screenings are recommended in all phases, so are providing distance learning options for high-risk students, and wearing face coverings.

Virginia Beach School Board made a decision to start the new academic year full-time online. The plan is to phase-in face-to-face instruction when health data suggest it’s safe.

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Washington’s guide to reopen schools follows the state’s Safe Start phased approach to reopening on a county-by-county basis. Thus, some schools may be ready to open in the fall for in-person instruction, but others may not.

Schools are encouraged to develop a system for parents dropping off and picking up students, which may include designating specific times. Temperature checks and symptoms screenings should be done every day. Schools should consider canceling all field trips and assemblies, canceling activities in which students may be in close contact such as choir practices, and reducing the number of students in the halls. Staff must wear face coverings, and students may use face shields as an alternative to masks.

Source: Courtesy of Morgantown High School

West Virginia

Schools are expected to open for in-person instruction on September 8. Staff and students older than 9 will be required to wear masks, in line with the statewide face-coverings mandate.

The state’s Board of Education has released guidelines with three possible scenarios. A traditional Monday through Friday schedule is not an option. Elementary schools should come back for a four-day school week. Students should be organized in cohorts, staying in the same classroom and eating meals there, every day.

Another option is for high and middle school students to study in a hybrid environment, having in-person instruction a few days a week and the rest of classes taking place online. The third scenario, which is being considered only for emergency situations such as a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, is remote learning only.

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The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has released its guidelines for school officials to use as they plan to resume in-person instruction at the start of the new academic year. According to the recommendations, the school week may be just four days as the schools will be closed on the fifth day for cleaning. When students are not physically in the school, they will have to do school work online.

A two-day rotation is also an option, with students in school for two full days and remote learning the rest of the school week. A third option is to rotate each week with half of the student population present in the school for four full days with the other half studying online, and to switch every week.

Source: Wikimedia Commons


As of June 10, K-12 schools, colleges, and the University of Wyoming were allowed to reopen for in-person classes for all students in groups of no more than 50 people. The students within those groups have to maintain physical distance from one another.

The deadline for school districts to submit their plans for reopening to the Department of Education is August 3. Plans have to 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.

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