Schools across most of the county have reopened, and the traditional school day has been overhauled. Social distancing, part-time remote learning, 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 mandates, and the final decisions on how to reopen their schools lie within each school district. School districts can also change plans at any point during the academic year.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed executive orders, directives, and guidelines issued by either governors or state education and health departments to create a list of restrictions and safety recommendations for resuming in-person instruction in every state.
The guidelines aim at preventing transmission among students; however, that may be difficult to achieve. Many schools from Alaska to Florida have had to temporarily close just days after reopening for in-person instruction as both teachers and students tested positive for COVID-19. In a few cases, schools shut doors and cancelled all after-school programs even after a single staff member had been exposed to the virus.
Across the country, teachers and the state governments are at odds about how to reopen. In some states, educators sued to start the school year remotely. In many, teachers used medical leaves to avoid in-person teaching over fears the current protocols put in place are not sufficient to ensure everyone’s safety.
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 in COVID-19 cases 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).