Special Report

Every State's Plan to Reopen Schools in the Fall

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Schools in Kansas will not reopen until after Labor Day, Sept. 7, due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases across the state. Once schools do open, wearing masks, temperature checks, and social distancing will be enforced, according to Gov. Laura Kelly.

The Kansas State Board of Education has decided to allow each school district to decide what the academic year will look like and the requirements for school reopening.

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In its new guidance for school facilities, the Kentucky Department of Education provides information on how to safely reopen schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet between students, teachers, and staff during the day is key, according to the DOE. The department has released a calculator to help schools determine how many students should be allowed in a classroom.

Hallways and stairways should be marked with “lanes” for traffic flow and social distancing reminders should be visible. School officials are advised to advertise the precise time each building will be open to receive students to avoid crowding. Student dismissal should be staggered for the same reason.

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Louisiana’s Department of Education warns that it is almost inevitable that some students will get COVID-19. When that happens, the other students and everyone who has been in close contact with the infected child will be asked to stay home for at least two weeks. The state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has released rules for reopening schools in the fall, which include students wearing masks, washing hands at least every two hours, and grouping students in cohorts.

The DOE recommends that schools start the school year with class sizes of 10 people, including adults, eventually expanding to 25 and 50. Screening students for sickness upon arrival is also identified among “best practices” for keeping children and staff healthy. Visitors should not be allowed in the school building.

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The Maine Department of Education has released its initial framework to help schools safely resume in-classroom instruction in September. Schools can determine whether they are ready to reopen if they meet certain criteria, including 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.

Schools should consider flexible grouping and interdisciplinary courses. The DOE recommends that school officials plan remote learning methods as well, although fully remote learning should be a last resort when it is necessary to protect the health and safety of students and school staff.


The Maryland Department of Education has six requirements that need to be agreed on 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 state’s Department of Education also recommends students come to school for two to three days a week, in a staggered manner, and have longer days at school.

Elementary students should return to school first, while students in middle and high school do classes online. After a week – or when health officials deem it safe – students in higher grades can return to the classroom as well. Another option is to have all students come in for two full days and do homework or remote learning the other three days of the week.

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