Getting Ready for K-12 Schools to Open
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- July 31, 2020
The COVID-19 virus has played havoc for schools of all types, and in every state opening schedules will be different. Public schools differ from private education facilities, campus officials taking into account the needs and safety of students, teachers and staff.
Here is a quick look at what every state is proposing as far as opening schools, keeping in mind that various school districts within a given state may alter their own schedule as well.
While this list is lengthy, it contains each of the 50 states, given a quick view of what is expected, today. All may change, of course, depending upon the advancement or control of the novel coronavirus.
All schools plan to reopen for the fall season on time. K-12 public schools will reopen as early as August, though it is yet unclear how many students -- as well as teachers -- will actually be returning for in-person instruction. If parents prefer that their children continue to study online, they will have that opportunity as Alabama is preparing a statewide virtual learning platform.
The state’s guidelines for returning to school in the fall include having a designated area of quarantine for children who get sick at school, nurses wearing N95 masks, and parents checking kids' temperature at home every morning. They also include frequent checks and refills of hand sanitizers, limited use of classroom materials to small groups, and the cleaning of school buildings and classrooms every day.
Schools will likely implement multiple social distancing strategies when they reopen, including extended school dismissals at the end of the school day, as well as canceling all field trips, sports events, as well as extracurricular activities. The state's Department of Education also recommends that schools offer distance learning until local health officials say it is safe to reopen schools. Students in some school districts, including Anchorage, can choose between physically returning to school and full-time remote learning.
Teachers and school staff are asked to teach and reinforce healthy hygiene and make sure hygiene supplies are readily available throughout the building. A designated staff person whose job will be responding to COVID-19 concerns has also been recommended by the state's DOE. A virtual or in-person training on how to maintain social distancing is also encouraged.
Gov. Doug Ducey has delayed the reopening of in-person instruction until at least Aug. 17 because of a recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the state. However, schools have the option to start classes online before then.
The Arizona Department of Education has released a roadmap for the eventual physical reopening of schools. Staff will have to check students for symptoms, which may include temperature checks, or confirm with families that students are COVID-19 symptom-free.
Schools are advised to organize classrooms in such a way that will allow students to be at least 6 feet away from one another. This may include providing physical guides like tape on the floor or signs on walls. When physical distancing is not possible, students and teachers should be wearing masks as a mitigation strategy. Assigned seating is recommended to help track the virus spread if students or teachers test positive for COVID-19. The Arizona DOE also encourages reduced class sizes, designated drop-off times or locations, and closing shared spaces like dining halls and playgrounds.
The start of the new academic year has been pushed back from Aug. 13 until at least Aug. 24 to give districts enough time to prepare for reopening in the middle of the pandemic. The number of students attending classes in-person will depend on local conditions, including the local outbreak situation and each district's resources. Remote teaching will be available to supplement traditional schooling if necessary.
The state's education department has guidelines for each district and school in six areas of operation -- such as facilities and transportation and student support. Schools are advised to consider serving lunches in classrooms, determine how to prohibit congregation in hallways and cafeterias, and consider rotating teachers rather than students. Children age 10 and over who ride a school bus are required to wear a face covering.
Most California school districts plan to open in the fall, but classes are not going to return to normal. Schools are free to create their own scheduling based on needs, but the Department of Education released a guidebook with recommendations. One is to have students alternate distance learning days with in-person days. Others include students wearing masks and having their temperatures checked every day.
The two largest school districts in the Golden State -- Los Angeles and San Diego -- will start the new academic year online-only.
Schools across the state are urged to position desks at least 6 feet apart, minimizing face-to-face contact between students. Classroom sizes will be smaller as a result, but schools should use other campus spaces, such as gyms, auditoriums, cafeterias, or the outdoors, for instructional activities. All teachers and staff should wear face coverings or face shields.
Schools plan to reopen in September, although there have been warnings of a fall outbreak by state epidemiologists. The Colorado Department of Education has been working on guidelines to help school district officials design safety plans. Some of the recommendations include dividing students into small groups if 6 feet physical distance cannot be maintained, directing the flow of student movement and using physical barriers to decrease the risk of transmission.
Some teachers are applying for the federal Education Stabilization Fund -- Rethink K12 Education Models grant to help create high-quality remote learning opportunities.
The state recently released a framework to reopen all school districts statewide in the fall. In-person classes, however, are still contingent upon the state's successful COVID-19 containment efforts. While the goal is to return to full-time instruction, school may be canceled to contain isolated COVID-19 outbreaks.
Schools are advised to organize groups of students and teachers into a cohort so each team functions independently as much as possible. The DOE also urges staff to use gyms and auditoriums for classes in order to maximize social distancing. Schools staff and students will be expected to have face coverings when inside the school building.
Public schools in New Haven have the option to start the new academic year online, while schools in Bridgeport will resume in-person instruction.
The state's Department of Education recently announced guidance for reopening schools for the new academic year. This includes several opening scenarios based on the health of the community.
Some of the recommendations are: requiring staff and students in grades 4-12 to wear masks. Face coverings for children in Pre-K through third grade are recommended. Other recommendations include using individual desks (which should be facing the same direction), minimizing or eliminating table seating, directing the flow of people in hallways and corridors to one-way only. The DOE also recommends that schools use outdoor spaces as much as possible and allow more time for recess in order to avoid crowing.
Because the state is a current hotspot for new coronavirus cases, the commissioner of education signed an executive order on July 6 ordering schools to reopen for in-person instruction in the fall, unless barred by state or local health directives. Schools in the Miami Dade district will be able to choose between daily attendance at school, full-time remote learning or a combination of both.
In June, state education officials announced recommendations for reopening schools. The recommendations included an incremental reopening of K-12 and postsecondary institutions for summer programs held in June and July, with schools expanding to full capacity when the academic year starts in August.
Recommendations to redesign the school day in order to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the coronavirus include keeping groups of students together throughout the day and converting cafeterias, libraries, gymnasiums, auditoriums and outdoor areas into classroom space. It is also recommended that students have lunch in their classroom or outdoors and that schools move nonessential furniture and equipment out of classrooms to increase distance between students.
The state departments of Education and Public Health developed guidelines to help school districts plan strategies for reopening schools. The guide focuses on the health and physical requirements necessary for reopening school buildings. The recommendations in the guidelines include creating walking zones for in-person drop-off with at least 6 feet distance between staff and families as well as scheduling pickup times to limit the number of people at the same time and place. Closing every other row of seats and allowing one child to a seat on school buses is also recommended.
Schools are advised to require students to wash their desks daily and ban the sharing of pens and other writing materials. Public schools in Atlanta, which will start the new school year on Aug. 24, will do so online. Resuming in-person instruction is contingent on local virus trends.
The new academic year will start Aug. 4. Students can return to classrooms for in-person instruction, study online or use a blended model. Hawaii's guidelines for reopening schools this fall include suggestions for wearing masks and how officials should implement social distancing.
The DOE recommends that students be kept in the same groups every day and that schools keep at least 3 feet between seats and tables or 6 feet if students are facing each other. Schools should also cancel field trips, organize more virtual activities and have meals in the classroom.
The state's back-to-school framework plans for students to physically come back to the classroom, even though the guidelines advise schools to prepare for online and hybrid models of learning. It is recommended that schools in areas with a potential for rapid increase in COVID-19 cases conduct daily health screenings, including temperature checks.
Several districts have already released their own tentative plans for the academic year. They are a combination of using personal protective equipment, maintaining social distancing and enforcing various sanitation measures. Schools, as well as Boise State University, are planning a hybrid learning environment in which school work may be split in half between online classes and in-person instruction. Large gatherings, such as assemblies, will most likely not be allowed.
K-12 schools, community colleges, and higher education institutions are planning to resume in-person instruction for the upcoming academic year. Districts will be given 2.5 million cloth face masks for students, teachers, and other staff. In order for schools to reopen, the state's Department of Public Health requires that schools ban more than 50 individuals from gathering in one space, that they implement social distancing measures whenever possible, and that they conduct symptom screenings and temperature checks. Community colleges that open for in-person classes will require students, faculty, and staff wear face coverings.
Schools and districts have been advised to prepare for a return to remote instruction in case of a coronavirus second wave in the fall. Different school districts are implementing various methods of learning, including having students in classrooms two days a week (facial coverings required) with another two days of online learning.
Schools are making plans to reopen in September for the new academic year. Keeping students and staff healthy and safe may require daily temperature screenings and creating individual health plans. Schools are asked to consider changing school calendars such as alternating days or half days to minimize the number of students in a building and providing in-person instruction to elementary students but offer more remote learning opportunities for secondary grade levels.
Using assigned seating in order to make potential contact tracing easier is also recommended. In order to decrease gathering in one place, schools are asked to consider scheduling restroom breaks to avoid overcrowding.
Gov. Kim Reynolds said in mid-July that schools have to conduct at least 50 percent of classes in person when they reopen for the new academic year in the fall. Online programs will be available if parents do not want to physically send their children to school.
The state's guidance for reopening schools safely was criticized for not recommending face masks for the purposes of reducing stigma. Though the plan did not require face coverings, the DOE called for schools to allow students and staff to wear whatever face covering they were comfortable with.
Schools in Kansas will not reopen until after Labor Day, Sept. 7, due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases statewide. Gov Laura Kelly said once schools do open, wearing masks, temperature checks, and social distancing will be enforced.
The Kansas State Board of Education has decided to allow each school district to decide what the academic year will look like and the requirements for school reopening.
In its new guidance for school facilities, the Kentucky Department of Education provides information on how to safely reopen schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet between students, teachers and staff during the day is key. The department has released a calculator to help schools determine how many students should be allowed in a classroom.
Hallways and stairways should be marked with "lanes" for traffic flow and social distancing reminders should be visible. School officials are advised to advertise the precise time each building will be open to receive students to avoid crowding. Student dismissal should be staggered for the same reason.
The state’s Department of Education warns that it is almost inevitable that some students will get COVID-19. When that happens, other students and everyone who has been in close contact with the infected child will be asked to stay home for at least two weeks. The state's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has released rules for reopening schools in the fall, which include students wearing masks, washing hands at least every two hours, and grouping students in cohorts.
It is recommended that schools start the school year with class sizes of 10 people, including adults, eventually expanding to 25 and 50. Screening students for sickness upon arrival is also identified among "best practices" for keeping children and staff healthy. Visitors should not be allowed in the school building.
The Department of Education has released its initial framework to help schools safely resume in-classroom instruction in September. Schools can determine whether they are ready to reopen if they meet certain criteria, including being able to screen students and employees for symptoms, being ready to intensify cleaning and disinfection, and being prepared to increase spacing and to keep students in small groups.
Schools should consider flexible grouping and interdisciplinary courses. DOE recommends that school officials plan remote learning methods as well, although fully remote learning should be a last resort when it is necessary to protect the health and safety of students and school staff.
The Maryland Department of Education has six requirements that need to be agreed on before schools reopen -- daily health screening for symptoms; physical distancing; mask requirements for adults; proper hygiene training; personal protective equipment for school nurses and other staff; and isolating at home, if sick.
DOE also recommends students come to school for two to three days a week, in a staggered manner, and have longer days at school. Elementary students should return to school first, while students in middle and high school do classes online. After a week, or when health officials deem it safe, students in higher grades can return to the classroom as well. Another option is to have all students come in for two full days and do homework or remote learning the other three days of the week.
The new academic year has been postponed for two weeks and will be cut to 170 days from 180. All schools must resume classes in-person, online, or a hybrid of the two by Sept. 16, according to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
During in-person instruction, elementary schools should keep students in the same group throughout the day. Middle and high schools do not have to but are urged to minimize mixing student groups as much as possible. All students in second grade or older are required to wear a face covering, and those who are younger are encouraged to wear a mask or a face shield. There is no maximum number for class size, as long as students can be at least 6 feet apart. Temperature checks are not recommended because of the possibility of false positive and false negative results.
The state has released a roadmap, issued by an executive order, to reopen schools in the fall. It is likely that plans to reopen may be jeopardized due to a surge of coronavirus cases in the state, said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The guide sets minimum health and safety requirements that apply to all schools, including public, charter, private, and parochial schools. Districts can enact more aggressive rules.
Schools must close if their region is in an area with the highest risk of COVID-19. Athletics, after-school activities, and inter-school activities like debate competitions will not be allowed, and online classes must be available. When schools open, face masks will be required, except during meals and unless they cannot be medically tolerated. All desks should be facing the same direction toward the front of the classroom and should be at least 6 feet apart.
Minnesota's health and safety guidelines require school officials to create three different contingency plans based on three possible scenarios for the outbreak in the state -- in-person learning for all students, hybrid learning, and remote learning.
In-person learning for all will involve creating as much space between students and teachers as possible. Extracurricular programming will be allowed if the COVID-19 Sports Guidance for Youth and Adults is followed. In case of hybrid learning, schools must limit the overall number of people in the building and on school buses to 50% maximum occupancy or less if students and staff cannot always be at least 6 feet from one another.
Schools will reopen throughout the state in the fall. School districts have started to release their own reopening plans, which include in-person classes with parents having the option to enroll their kids in online classes.
Superintendents' guidelines will be updated every three months. As long as students, teachers, and staff can maintain at least 6 feet physical distance, they can be physically present in school. Daily temperature checks and limiting students movement and gatherings is strongly encouraged.
A hybrid reopening is also an option. Students can be split into two groups that come to school on alternating days and study online when not physically in school. The guidelines also have the option for elementary students to be in school for in-person instruction, while students in higher grades complete their schoolwork entirely online.
Not all schools in Missouri may reopen in September. The state's DOE allows every school district to decide when to resume classes for the new academic year. Some can even start before the end of August. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's guidelines for reopening schools across Missouri include recommendations for health screenings, physical distancing, and face coverings.
The Missouri School Boards Association's guide for reopening schools during the pandemic suggests schools alternate days to minimize the number of students in the school building, limit extracurricular activities, and cancel sports that bring many people together. Minimizing class sizes, moving classrooms outdoors, and requiring students to remain seated in assigned seats at all times are other recommendations.
Schools in Montana will reopen in three phases. The first phase involves limiting the number of students in the school building. Extracurricular activities and assemblies of any kind should be canceled. Schools should have study packets ready with suggested activities in the vent the school has to suddenly close due to an outbreak.
Temperature checks, screening for symptoms, having good hygiene posters in classrooms and common areas, requiring students to wash hands in regular intervals, and using face coverings for all students and staff are other recommendations.
Nebraska has created a website, launchne.com, that is updated regularly with recommendations for school districts for reopening for the upcoming academic year. Some of the recommendations include changing air filters regularly, making visitors wash their hands before entering the school, controlling entrances to avoid overcrowding, posting signs about hygiene in common areas, and frequently cleaning and disinfecting playgrounds.
Omaha Public Schools, the largest school district in the state, will start the new academic year by dividing students into two groups. Each group will attend in-person classes half of the week, and on different days of the week.
The Nevada DOE released at the beginning of June a framework for reopening the schools in the fall. One recommendation is posting signs about proper handwashing and other ways to stop the virus spread in visible locations such as school entrances and restrooms.
The DOE also suggests that each school works with local health officials to develop a screening plan, which may include checking staff and students for symptoms as well as daily temperature checks. Face coverings are recommended for both staff and students, especially the older students, when maintaining 6 feet is not possible.
The guidelines Gov. Chris Sununu recently released for the safe reopening of schools in the fall calls for desks to be placed 3 to 6 feet apart, daily health screenings of students and educators, as well as plans for both in-person and online learning. Masks are highly recommended, but not required.
Classrooms should be arranged in such a way that students cannot sit in groups. All desks should face in the same direction and students should have assigned seats. Schools are ultimately free to create their own plans for reopening for the new academic year.
New Jersey schools plan to welcome students back for in-person instruction in September if health data does not show a new surge of COVID-19 cases. The DOE released a guideline, but every school district has to develop its own plan to reopen schools.
Schools must prepare for social distancing. They should provide physical guides, such as tape on floors or sidewalks and signs on walls, to help keep people at least 6 feet apart. Screening students and employees for symptoms of and history of exposure to COVID-19 is also highly recommended. Physical education classes should take place in marked areas to ensure physical distancing. School districts may design alternate schedules to mix remote and in-person classes if they do not have enough space to allow proper social distancing between all returning students.
The New Mexico Public Education Department plans to reopen schools in phases and start with a hybrid model in August. In-person classes will be limited to 50 percent of classroom capacity. Large group gatherings are to be avoided, social distancing requirements have to be met, and face coverings are required for all students and staff, with a few exceptions.
In-person learning should be prioritized for elementary students, while older students can study online. Another option is to have schools form groups that attend school only on certain days in order to limit group mixing. Schools should consider daily temperature checks and all staff should submit to coronavirus testing.
Schools will reopen based on regional conditions, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Schools in areas that are in phase 4 of reopening can resume in-person instruction if the daily infection rate is below 5 percent, using a 14-day average after Aug. 1. The state guidelines call for mandatory face coverings if physical distance cannot be maintained, repurposing facilities to allow for more spaces between students during class, having a plan to move to a hybrid model of learning if necessary.
Schools in New York City will not fully reopen in September. Students will be in classes for in-person instruction one to three days a week.
Schools in North Carolina will open under reduced capacity. Teachers and students K-12 must wear face masks or some other face covering. Health screenings, including temperature checks, will be required. Activities that bring a lot of people together will not be allowed. Some of the Department of Health and Human Services recommendations include one-way hallways, cohorting students, delivering meals to students in their classroom, and having physical barriers at reception desks.
Schools will be required to provide online classes to students who have COVID-19 or who have been exposed to the coronavirus. The DOE recommends that schools appoint one person to be the COVID-19 point of contact. On school buses, students must be seated 6 feet apart and wear a face covering.
Schools can open for in-person instruction only after local health officials have approved each school district's safety plan for reopening, as well as a plan for remote learning. Face coverings are recommended for all students and staff, especially when physical distancing is difficult to maintain. Schools are advised to post signs on how to stop the spread of the virus, and signs that would remind people to properly wash their hands and properly wear a face mask.
Students and staff should be in the same group every day as much as possible to restrict mixing of students, and group sizes should be no more than 15 people. Desks should be at least 6 feet apart. All field trips, inter-group events and extracurricular activities; canceled. Large areas such as gyms and playgrounds can be used to hold classes in order to maintain physical distance.
The Ohio Department of Education's recommendations for reopening schools in the fall include enforcement of safety precautions. Some of these are washing hands and maintaining social distancing. Masks or face coverings will be mandatory for the staff and recommended for the students.
Some students in the Columbus City School District will start the new academic year online full time. Children in pre-K through grade 8 will be physically in school two days a week with the other three days studying online.
The Department of Education has published a framework for school districts to use as they plan for the 2020-21 academic year. DOE recommends temperature self-screenings at home to reduce lines before entering school. Masks and other face coverings are encouraged for both staff and students. Signs showing proper hand washing should be placed above sinks and elsewhere throughout the building.
School districts should be prepared for sudden closure scenarios if there is a COVID-19 outbreak in the school. These plans may include short-term closures of a few days, mid-term closures of a few weeks, and longer-term closures. Districts should be ready to offer online learning and should consider offering alternative school calendars to allow for flexibility in responding to the pandemic.
Gov. Kate Brown said schools may not open in the fall for in-person instruction at all due to a surge in COVID-19 infections across the state. State officials had previously created a Healthy Schools Reopening Council so that various members of the community could have a chance to provide feedback to school districts as they plan to reopen schools in the fall. Schools are required to designate a person responsible for enforcing physical distancing requirements. Schools also have to have a protocol to screen students and staff for COVID-19 symptoms.
Once schools reopen, DOE recommends schools create opportunities for students who are not able to be psychically present for in-person instruction to interact with other students, including via distance learning. Cameras in classrooms will allow interaction between students in the school and those studying from home is one option.
Gov. Tom Wolf announced that schools that plan to open classrooms in the fall have to make masks mandatory, including for students, unless there is enough room for physical distancing.
The Department of Education released preliminary guidance for reopening schools. It expects students to return to classrooms "in some capacity" for the 2020-2021 academic year. Restrictions on how to start the school year depend on the phase of reopening at the county in which the school district is located. Schools in "red" counties will provide remote learning. Schools in "yellow'' counties can open for in-person instruction if they can keep students at least 6 feet apart. Schools in "green" counties can open with fewer restrictions.
DOE recommends having a pandemic coordinator and flexible attendance policies. Other recommendations include checking for COVID-19 symptoms before entering the school, all staff wearing masks, and making regular announcements on how to stop the spread of the virus.
State officials have released school reopening guidance for the 2020-2021 academic year. States should prepare for distance learning, even if it is only necessary for students who are home sick or quarantined. Class sizes may have to be reduced as students should be seated at least 6 feet apart. Socializing will be limited.
Students in elementary and middle school will be placed in groups of no more than 30 that will not mix with other groups. Such stable groups are recommended for high schools but not required. If they cannot stay 6 feet apart, students must wear masks. Students and staff should occupy the same space as much as possible. Assigned seating is strongly encouraged.
The Department of Education has so far approved the reopening plans of six school districts. Their measures range from offering full-time, in-person instruction for children in elementary school by keeping them in small groups to a blended model that involves livestream classes and pre-planned online courses.
A task force charged with developing a guide for safely reopening the schools in the fall is recommending social distancing in classrooms, as well as buses. It is also recommending that both students and teachers wear masks and to limit interaction among students. The guidelines also call for one school nurse for every 750 students.
The state’s DOE recommends that schools plan for fully remote learning in case some students test positive and the school has to be closed for days. Other recommendations include allowing extra time for hand washing and sanitizing throughout the day, replacing touch equipment with touchless equipment like PIN pads in cafeterias and automatic soap dispensers and wearing personal protective equipment.
The Department of Education released several guidance documents for reopening schools. Schools are advised to review classroom configuration in order to make sure students can be at least 6 feet from one another and to organize students in cohorts for recreation and eating. The guidance also recommends cancelling all events that involve mass gatherings and checking staff and students for symptoms every day.
The guidelines include eliminations of buffets having students eat in their classrooms instead, staggered drop-off times, walking and biking to school whenever possible so fewer kids need bus transportation, and plans for one-way traffic in school's hallways.
The Metro Nashville Public School districts will start the new academic year on Aug. 4 online at least until Labor Day.
Public schools will reopen for face-to-face instruction but students will be required to either wear masks or be subject to coronavirus testing. Parents who prefer to keep their children at home will have the option to enroll them in remote learning, said Gov. Greg Abbott.
The Texas Education Agency will require that students attend at least 90 percent of the class days either physically or online to get credit. Parents have until two weeks before school starts to decide whether to send kids to school or sign up for virtual learning.
The framework developed by the state’s School Board is a combination of requirements and recommendations for schools to implement and consider ahead of reopening for students in the fall. Schools must appoint one person as a point of contact for all COVID-19-related concerns. Teachers and staff must wear masks if it is difficult to maintain 6 feet of distance, but masks are just recommended for students. Schools should maximize space between seating and desks, even if the separation has to be established with plexiglass barriers.
The state's largest teachers union called on Gov. Gary Herbert to keep schools closed in the fall for in-person instruction, saying teachers "cannot unnecessarily risk their lives by opening schools too soon.”
Schools in Vermont are expected to reopen after Labor Day, two weeks later than planned.
The state's Agency of Education and Department of Health has released guidance on hygiene, social distancing, and containment strategies to help districts prepare for the upcoming academic year. Facial coverings will be mandatory in the building and outside when staying 6 feet apart cannot be maintained. Students and staff must sanitize their hands when they arrive, come back in from playing outside, and whenever they switch rooms.
Daily health checks will be performed during the cold weather months, with students and staff answering questions about how they feel and having their temperature taken. DOE also encourages keeping students in cohorts and having teachers switch rooms.
Virginia's plan to reopen schools in the fall involves three phases and a hybrid model in which some instruction will take place in person and some via remote learning. In phase 1, most of the schoolwork will be done online. Classes will be limited to 10 people, extracurricular activities will be canceled, and common areas, like cafeterias will be closed.
Phase 2 allows for some extracurricular activities and gatherings of no more than 50 people. More in-person instruction will be allowed in phase 3, with online classes being only supplemental. Daily health screenings are recommended in all phases, so are providing distance learning options for high-risk students, and wearing face coverings.
Virginia Beach School Board made a decision to start the new academic year full-time online. The plan is to phase-in face-to-face instruction when health data suggest it is safe.
Washington's guide to reopen schools follows the state's Safe Start phased approach to reopening on a county-by-county basis. Thus, some schools may be ready to open in the fall for in-person instruction, but others may not.
Schools are encouraged to develop a system for parents dropping off and picking up students, which may include designating specific times. Temperature checks and symptoms screenings should be done every day. Schools should consider canceling all field trips and assemblies, canceling activities in which students may be in close contact such as choir practices, and reducing the number of students in the halls. Staff must wear face coverings, and students may use face shields as an alternative to masks.
Schools are expected to open for in-person instruction on September 8. Staff and students older than nine will be required to wear masks, in line with the statewide face-coverings mandate.
The Board of Education has released guidelines with three possible scenarios. A traditional Monday through Friday schedule is not an option. Elementary schools should come back for a four-day school week. Students should be organized in cohorts, staying in the same classroom and eating meals there, every day.
Another option is for high and middle school students to study in a hybrid environment, having in-person instruction a few days a week and the rest of classes taking place online. The third scenario, which is being considered only for emergency situations such as a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, is remote learning only.
The Department of Public Instruction has released its guidelines for school officials to use as they plan to resume in-person instruction at the start of the new academic year. According to the recommendations, the school week may be just four days as the schools will be closed on the fifth day for cleaning. When students are not physically in the school, they will work online.
A two-day rotation is also an option, with students in school for two full days and remote learning the rest of the school week. A third option is to rotate each week with half of the student population present in the school for four full days with the other half studying online, and to switch every week.
K-12 schools, colleges and the University of Wyoming were allowed to reopen for in-person classes for all students in groups of no more than 50 people. The students within those groups must maintain physical distance from one another.
The deadline for school districts to submit their plans for reopening to the Department of Education is Aug. 3. Plans include three possible scenarios -- full-time in-person instruction, full-time remote learning, or a combination of the two. The DOE's initial guidelines include having lunch in classrooms, wearing face coverings and having specific groups use specific school entrances.