School officials and health experts spent months and countless hours ahead of the beginning of the school year developing plans to bring students back into the classroom safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, about four months into the academic year, many schools completely scrapped their original reopening plans.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed guidelines released by state governors and health and education departments as well as news articles to create a current list of restrictions, re-closures, and safety recommendations for schools in every state.
Daily temperature checks at the door, mask wearing, and staying socially distant were already the new normal. Sudden closures after students or staff tested positive for COVID-19 have now become part of the routine, too. Increasingly, these closures last more than two weeks, with some moving to full-time online instruction at least until the end of the fall semester.
As the U.S. reaches new, disturbing COVID-19 records almost every day, including deaths and hospitalizations, switching to remote learning until further notice — or at least strongly considering switching to remote learning — is not uncommon.
The parameters for shutting down schools for in-person instruction are not uniform and are up to each school to determine. Some have decided to go fully remote only after one confirmed case. Others have waited until dozens of COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the school before shutting in-person instruction. New York City Schools, the country’s largest school district, closed down all schools as the city hit a positivity rate of 3%. In-person classes will resume on Dec. 7 only for elementary students whose parents agree their children be tested every week.
All states but Hawaii are now designated as COVID-19 hotspots because cases have increased by more than 5% over the past 14 days, and the average positivity rate is either over 10% or growing substantially, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization. Though the pandemic continues to worsen across the country, new coronavirus cases and positivity rates vary from district to district — these are the places in every state where the virus is growing the fastest right now.