It’s mid-September, and as the temperature dips and the days get shorter, schools in almost all parts of the country have reopened. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school day has a new look. Schools are implementing measures to facilitate social distancing and minimize the risk of virus spread including part-time remote learning, temperature checks at the door, mask wearing, and one-way hallways.
State health departments across the nation have released different guidelines for safely reopening schools. These frameworks are not mandates, and the final decisions on how to reopen their schools rest with each school district. School districts can also change plans at any time during the academic year. Such changes have been happening already as COVID-19 outbreaks forced many districts to shift to remote learning instead of in-person classes, at least temporarily.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed executive orders, directives, and guidelines issued by either governors or state education and health departments and news reports to create a list of restrictions and safety recommendations for resuming education remotely and in person in every state.
The guidelines are intended to lessen the transmission of the virus among students, a goal difficult to achieve in many states. In some cases, schools shut doors and canceled all after-school programs already after a single staff member had tested positive for the virus.
How to reopen has sometimes put state governments and local officials in conflict. In Iowa, Des Moines school district began the fall semester in early September by teaching remotely, defying Gov. Kim Reynolds’ order to teach primarily in person or risk losing state funding.
Many of the ideas and suggestions for opening schools depend on whether communities have been able to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Most states’ guidelines were published at the beginning or in the middle of June, before a resurgence in COVID-19 cases was reported in many parts of the country in June and July. These are the states where the virus is slowing (and where it’s still getting worse).