Schools across the country have begun to reopen, and the traditional school day has been overhauled. Desks spaced 6 feet apart, temperature checks at the door, and having lunch in small groups is the new reality for many.
State health departments have released different sets of guidelines for safely reopening schools, though each school or school district has the final say about the method of reopening.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed executive orders, directives, and guidelines issued by either governors or education and health departments to create a list of restrictions and safety recommendations for resuming in-person instruction in every state.
The guidelines are not a mandate but only offer advice on what schools should require from students, parents, and staff in order to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus.
Still, preventing transmission among students may be difficult to achieve, despite the many precautions schools would take. Since mid-July, there has been a 90% increase in the number of COVID-19 cases among children in the U.S., according to a recent analysis by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association. A school in Alabama and three schools in a county in Georgia were closed after reopening for in-person instruction as dozens of students tested positive for the coronavirus.
A school district in Arizona was forced to delay reopening because more than 100 teachers and other staff members called in sick. They refused to return to the classroom because they did not feel safe. Across the country, in Florida, the state’s largest teachers’ union is suing the governor and the education department to stop schools from physically reopening.
A school district in California has designed a method that has not been suggested by any state — remote learning from a specific location. About 20 schools will open so students can come back for online classes. A substitute teacher or a district staffer will be physically in the classroom for technical assistance, enforcing physical distancing, and making sure the children do their work.
Many of the requirements and suggestions for opening schools depend on whether communities have been able to contain the spread of the coronavirus locally. Most states’ guidelines were released at the beginning or in the middle of June, before a resurgence of COVID-19 infections was reported in certain parts of the South and West in June and July — here are the states where the virus is slowing (and where it’s still getting worse).