As of Wednesday, at least 41 states offered roadmaps outlining a successful reentry into the 2020-21 school year. The states without written guidance for the fall so far include Colorado, New York, Nebraska, Delaware, Kansas, New Hampshire, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.
This guidance, posted on states' department of education websites, advises schools on ways to keep both students and faculty safe. It addresses virus screenings for students before entering the building, hygiene measures, wearing masks and social distancing.
While states are offering guidance, local boards of education will determine how their schools will reopen, including whether to use in-person or remote learning. One alternative is a “blended” approach, in which students divide their time, physically being in the classroom some days and learning remotely on other days.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little wrote in a letter previewing his state's plan that he fully expects schools to reopen safely for in-person learning this fall despite rising cases of coronavirus.
“I expect all our school buildings to safely reopen in the fall for in-person instruction,” Little wrote in the letter. “Despite incredible advances in digital learning, you can never replace the value and impact of the warm hand of a professional, dedicated teacher.”
Meanwhile, both West Virginia and Arizona already delayed the start of the school year following spikes in coronavirus cases.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced that schools won’t reopen until Sept. 8 at the earliest, due to the rising number of COVID-19 infections and the need for more time to adjust plans.
“I can assure you beyond any doubt that I am not going to move until I am absolutely as sure as I can possibly be that our kids are going to be safe,” Justice said during a news conference Wednesday.
Some county school districts had tentative plans to return as early as mid-August, the Herald Mail reported.
In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey earlier this week announced that in-person classes would be delayed until at least Aug. 17 due to the pandemic. He said schools can begin remote courses before that date.
"We also want to bring as much certainty as possible for Arizona schools," Ducey said. "We'll continuously reevaluate this target date."
School districts in Gwinnett County, Georgia, and Shelby County, Alabama, also pushed back the start of school by one week.
President Trump earlier this week said his administration would “very much put pressure” on governors to reopen schools in the fall.