Special Report

Every State's Plan to Reopen Schools in the Fall

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Colorado

Colorado schools plan to reopen in September, although there have been warnings of a fall outbreak by state epidemiologists. The Colorado Department of Education has been working on guidelines to help school district officials design safety plans. Some of the 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.

Some teachers are applying for the federal Education Stabilization Fund — Rethink K12 Education Models grant to help create high-quality remote learning opportunities.

Connecticut

Connecticut recently released a framework to reopen all school districts statewide in the fall. In-person classes, however, are still contingent upon the state’s successful COVID-19 containment efforts. While the goal is to return to full-time instruction, school may be canceled to contain isolated COVID-19 outbreaks.

Schools are advised to organize groups of students and teachers into a cohort so each team functions independently as much as possible. The DOE also urges staff to use gyms and auditoriums for classes in order to maximize social distancing. Schools staff and students will be expected to have face coverings when inside the school building.

Public schools in New Haven have the option to start the new academic year online, while schools in Bridgeport will resume in-person instruction.

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Delaware

The state’s Department of Education recently announced guidance for reopening schools for the new academic year. This includes several opening scenarios based on the health of the community.

Some of the recommendations are: requiring staff and students in grades 4-12 to wear masks. Face coverings for children in Pre-K through third grade are recommended. Other recommendations include using 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.

The DOE also recommends that schools use outdoor spaces as much as possible and allow more time for recess in order to avoid crowing.

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Florida

The commissioner of education of Florida, a current hotspot of new coronavirus cases, signed an executive order on July 6 ordering schools to reopen 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 recommendations for reopening schools. The recommendations included an incremental reopening of K-12 and postsecondary institutions for summer programs held in June and July, with schools expanding to full capacity when the academic year starts in August.

Recommendations to redesign the school day in order to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the coronavirus include keeping groups of students together throughout the day and converting cafeterias, libraries, gymnasiums, auditoriums, and outdoor areas into classroom space. It is also recommended that students have lunch in their classroom or outdoors and that schools move nonessential furniture and equipment out of classrooms to increase distance between students.

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Georgia

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

The recommendations in the guidelines include creating walking zones for in-person drop-off with at least 6 feet distance between staff and families as well as scheduling pickup 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 is also recommended. Schools are advised to require students to wash their desks daily and ban the sharing of pens and other writing materials.

Public schools in Atlanta, which will start the new school year on Aug. 24, will do so online. Resuming in-person instruction is contingent on local coronavirus trends.