Special Report

Every State's Plan to Reopen Schools in the Fall

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The new academic year in Hawaii will start on Aug. 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 suggestions for wearing masks and how officials should implement social distancing.

The DOE recommends that students be kept in the same groups every day and that schools keep at least 3 feet between seats and tables or 6 feet if students are facing each other. Schools should also cancel field trips, organize more virtual activities, and have meals in the classroom.

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The state’s back-to-school framework plans for students to physically come back to the classroom, even though the guidelines advise schools to prepare for online and hybrid models of learning. The Department of Education recommends schools in areas with a potential for rapid increase in COVID-19 cases conduct daily health screenings, including temperature checks.

Several districts have already released their own tentative plans for the academic year. They are a combination of using personal protective equipment, maintaining social distancing, and enforcing various sanitation measures. Schools, as well as Boise State University, are planning a hybrid learning environment in which school work may be split in half between online classes and in-person instruction. Large gatherings, such as assemblies, will most likely not be allowed.


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. In order for schools to reopen, the state’s Department of Public Health requires that schools ban more than 50 individuals from gathering in one space, that they implement social distancing measures whenever possible, and that they conduct symptom screenings and temperature checks. Community colleges that open for in-person classes will require that students, faculty, and staff wear face coverings.

Schools and districts have been advised to prepare for a return to remote instruction in case of a coronavirus second wave in the fall.

Different school 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.

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Indiana schools are making plans to reopen in September for the new academic year. Keeping students and staff healthy and safe may require daily temperature screenings and creating individual health plans, according to the state’s Department of Education recommendations.

Schools are asked to consider changing school calendars such as alternating days or half days to minimize the number of students in a building and providing in-person instruction to elementary students but offer more remote learning opportunities for secondary grade levels. Using assigned seating in order to make potential contact tracing easier is also recommended. In order to decrease gathering in one place, schools are asked to consider scheduling restroom breaks to avoid overcrowding.

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Gov. Kim Reynolds said in mid-July that schools have to conduct at least 50% of classes in person when they reopen for the new academic year in the fall. Online programs will be available if parents do not want to physically send their children to school.

The state’s guidance for reopening schools safely was criticized for not recommending face masks for the purposes of reducing stigma. Though the plan did not require face coverings, the DOE called for schools to allow students and staff to wear whatever face covering they were comfortable with.

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