Schools across the country have begun to reopen, and the traditional school day has been overhauled. Social distancing, temperature checks at the door, mask wearing, and one-way hallways are now the new norm.
State health departments have released different sets of guidelines for safely reopening schools. These guidelines are not a mandate, and the final decisions on how to reopen their schools lie within each school district.
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 novel coronavirus can spread within enclosed halls and classrooms. However, some education officials have argued that online learning alone can disrupt a child’s educational and social development. To both minimize potential spread and reliance on virtual learning alone, districts are implementing a variety of plans to bring back students and teachers into schools.
Still, preventing transmission among students may be difficult to achieve, despite the many precautions schools would take. Some schools in the South and Midwest have had to close just days after reopening for in-person instruction after both staff and students tested positive for COVID-19.
In some states, the school year is delayed because teachers do not feel safe to return. In Arizona, more than 100 teachers and other staff members called in sick. Across the country, in Florida, the state’s largest teachers union sued the state over the governor’s order to resume in-person instruction. The order was ruled unconstitutional, and school districts will each decide how to open and operate going forward.
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 across the country in June and July — here are the states where the virus is slowing (and where it’s still getting worse).