Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: July 13, 2020

Each day, we:

  • Track the status of reopening in all 50 states.
  • Compare the status of one industry or activity across the country.
  • Answer key questions about state school reopening plans.
  • Give you the latest stories on other reopening plans and ideas.

Want to know what happened Friday? Click here.

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that effective Tuesday, July 14, the statewide limit on gatherings would decrease from 100 people to 25. Justice also announced he is closing bars in Monongalia County for 10 days.

Since our last edition

What is open in each state? For a continually updated article on reopening status in all 50 states, click here. For our last edition, click here.

  • California (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) ordered the following industries and activities to close statewide: indoor operations at all restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos, museums, cardrooms, and all operations at bars. He also ordered 30 counties to close indoor operations for fitness centers, places of worship, non-essential offices, personal care services, hair salons and barbershops, and malls. All affected counties are on the state’s COVID-19 watchlist.
  • Louisiana (divided government): On July 11, Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) issued an executive proclamation establishing a statewide face-covering requirement. Effective July 13, individuals in Louisiana are required to wear face coverings when in any indoor or outdoor public space. The order exempts children under the age of eight, as well as individuals with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing face coverings. The order allows parishes to opt-out if they have maintained a COVID-19 incidence rate of fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 people for the past two weeks. Edwards also ordered the closure of bars statewide to on-premises consumption (carry-out and curbside service remain available) and limited gatherings to 50 people or fewer. The order will last through at least July 24, at which point it could be extended.
  • Michigan (divided government): Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) Executive Order 2020-147 takes effect on July 13. It reiterates that individuals are required to wear face coverings in most indoor public settings. It also expands that requirement to include crowded outdoor spaces and requires businesses to refuse entry or service to individuals not wearing face coverings. A willful violation of the order is a misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine. The order exempts children under the age of five and individuals who cannot medically tolerate face coverings, among others.
  • Missouri (Republican trifecta): The Department of Education released guidance for reopening schools. Recommendations include screening students and faculty for symptoms, limiting students and faculty to the same group of people every day (cohorting), and requesting students and faculty wear masks.
  • New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): The state is rolling back its reopening due to increasing coronavirus cases, effective July 13. Indoor dining, which had been permitted since June 1, is now prohibited at restaurants and bars. State parks are closed to out-of-state visitors and visitors who cannot prove their residency. The state’s mask requirement is expanding to include anyone exercising in a public space.
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): The State Department of Education released a framework for school reopening plans. Each school district will be required to submit a district-specific reopening plan based on the template between July 17 and July 31. Formal guidance for reopening is expected later this week.
  • Tennessee (Republican trifecta): Gov. Bill Lee’s (R) Economic Recovery Group released new guidelines for media production. The guidelines apply to the film, TV, and music industries.

Tracking industries: Face coverings

All 50 states are reopening in some way. Here, we give the status of one industry or activity across the states. Today’s question: in which states must you wear a face covering in public?

We last looked at face coverings in the June 30th edition of the newsletter. Since then, eight additional states have enacted face-covering requirements: Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Washington, and West Virginia.

This is an in-depth summary of two state plans to reopen public K-12 schools for the 2020-2021 school year.

Indiana’s Considerations for Learning and Safe Schools

On June 5, the state released its guidance for reopening schools, titled Indiana’s Considerations for Learning and Safe Schools. It contains recommendations for local districts to consider in consultation with local health departments to create individual reopening plans.

On June 5, Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said, “We have not specified this as a mandatory thing that a school has to do. We have given some very good recommendations and guidance and really feel that our superintendents, our principals, our teachers, in conjunction with their local health departments, are the individuals that really need to make this decision about this community and for their community.”

Schools were allowed to reopen beginning July 1. At a press conference announcing the reopening on June 30, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) said, “We believe where we are right now schools can, and should open for instruction. We wouldn’t have made that decision or endorsed the proposal to go forward if we thought otherwise.” According to EdWeek, schools in Indiana traditionally start the school year between late July and mid-August, with the exact start date varying by district.

Holcomb announced that all schools would be granted a 20-day waiver for required school days on March 12. The waiver allowed schools to close for a given day without needing to make the day up to complete the school year. On March 19, Holcomb issued an executive order closing all schools to in-person instruction until May 1. On April 2, he extended that order for the remainder of the school year.

Context

Indiana is a Republican trifecta. The governor is a Republican, and Republicans hold majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. The state became a Republican trifecta in 2011.

The following tables show public education statistics in Indiana, including a rank comparing it to the other 49 states. Rank one is the highest number of each figure, rank 50 is the lowest. All data comes from the Common Core of Data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Indiana school metrics
Category Figure Rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $11,306 40
Number of students (’18-’19) 1,055,351 15
Number of teachers (’16-17) 60,162 16
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 1,919 18
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 17.3 12
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 47.90% 23
Indiana school revenue
Category Figure Rank
Total revenue $12,103,344,000 17
Percent from federal sources 8.2% 30
Percent from state sources 56.1% 16
Percent from local sources 35.8% 33

Plan details

The sections below analyze recommendations from the guidance on health protocols, social distancing, and transportation.

Health protocols

The plan says that requirements for wearing masks should follow federal, state, and local guidelines. As of July 13, Indiana does not require face masks in public.

The plan states that if an individual exhibits one or more symptoms of COVID-19, schools should ask the individual to stay home.

For untested and symptomatic positive cases, individuals may return if they are fever-free for 72 hours, have had other symptoms improved, and are at least 10 calendar days past when symptoms first appeared. Symptomatic individuals with positive tests must also have received two negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

Asymptomatic individuals with positive tests may return if released by a healthcare provider after 10 days of exhibiting no symptoms. The 10-day requirement can be waived with written approval by a healthcare provider.

Social distancing recommendations

The plan provides several ways for districts to follow social distancing recommendations from the CDC, including school calendar modifications, changes to class structure and size, and decreasing the possibility for large gatherings of students.

The plan provides several suggestions for altering school calendars:

  • Schedule specified groups of students to attend in-person school on alternate days or half days to minimize the number of students in the building.
  • Year-round schooling with alternating breaks.
  • In-person instruction for elementary students and distance learning for older students.
  • Offer both in-person and remote instruction based on student need and parent concerns.

The plan provides several suggestions for changing class size and structure:

  • Organize students into cohorts so they stay with the same staff as much as possible.
  • Close communal use spaces such as dining halls and playgrounds if possible. Otherwise, stagger use and disinfect in between use.
  • Reorganize P.E., choir, band, and other large classes to allow for smaller classes.
  • Eliminate or reorganize assemblies, field trips, and other large gatherings.
  • Alternate recess to minimize the number of students on the playground, encourage social distancing, and allow time to disinfect equipment between uses.

The plan provides several suggestions for eliminating large gatherings of students:

  • Assign students to use different entrances or create directional paths.
  • Stagger drop-off, pick-up, and class release times.
  • Require students to stay in an assigned section of the schoolyard or playground as opposed to mingling with other classes.
  • Schedule restroom breaks to avoid overcrowding.

Transportation

The plan requires all employees to wear masks while on a bus or other transportation and instructs districts to thoroughly clean and disinfect buses before and after routes. If a driver or passenger tested positive or exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, districts must wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting the vehicle.

Arizona’s Roadmap for Reopening Schools 

On June 1, the Arizona Department of Education released guidance for reopening schools, titled “Roadmap for Reopening Schools.” It’s based on input from health experts and education leaders across Arizona and includes suggestions for how local school districts can reopen for the 2020-2021 school year under different scenarios.

Kathy Hoffman, the Superintendent in Public Instruction, said about the plan, “This is not a one-size-fits all. This is meant to be flexible and adaptable to help our school leaders think through all different types of scenarios and work within their own communities to create plans that are best for their unique needs.”

On June 29, Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed an executive order delaying the start of school until Aug. 17. However, schools are permitted to offer distance learning before Aug. 17 if they submit a distance learning plan to the Arizona Department of Education.

Ducey first ordered all schools closed on March 15. He announced that schools would remain closed to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year on March 30.

Context

Arizona is a Republican trifecta, with a Republican governor and Republican majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

The following tables show public education statistics in Arizona, including a rank comparing it to the other 49 states. Rank one is the highest number of each figure, rank 50 is the lowest. All data comes from the Common Core of Data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Arizona school metrics
Category Figure Rank
Per pupil spending (16-17) $19,456 6
Number of students (18-19) 130,963 47
Number of teachers (Fall 2016) 7,825 49
Number of public schools (18-19) 510 44
Student:teacher ratio (18-19) 17.1 14
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (16-17) 45.30% 32
Arizona school revenue
Category Figure Rank
Total revenue $9,860,167,000 21
Federal revenue % 13 5
State revenue % 44.1 32
Local revenue % 43 23

Plan details

The sections below analyze recommendations from the guidance on school finance, health protocols, different scenarios, and technology.

School finance

The plan says that the potential for shifts in student enrollment and attendance has led to growing concerns about school budget stability. According to the plan, funding calculations for public schools are based in part on student enrollment counts after the first 100 days of instructions. The plan calls for state leaders to consider the following:

  • A budget floor to cover core costs.
  • A flexible and adaptable way to provide distance learning that is tied to a brick and mortar school.
  • Transportation route miles adjustment that allows for an increase in bus routes needed to accommodate fewer students on a bus at one time.

Additionally, the plan calls for the following considerations:

  • Limiting budgets from decreasing more than two percent (2%).
  • Allowing students who participate in person or remotely within the first 10 days of school to count as enrolled for the first day of the school calendar.
  • The ability to mark a student’s absence as excused when related to issues of COVID concerns.
  • Accommodate the ability of districts or schools to offer flexible and adaptable instructional models by linking funding calculations to those models in a similar manner as regular instruction.

Health protocols

The plan includes a decision tree, written by the CDC, that schools can use to determine if they should reopen to in-person instruction. Considerations include some of the following:

  • Will reopening be consistent with applicable state and local orders?
  • Are you able to screen students and employees, upon arrival, for symptoms and history of exposure?
  • Are recommended health and safety actions in place?
  • Is ongoing monitoring in place?

The plan recommends that schools wait to reopen physical buildings until all questions in the decision tree can be answered with a “yes.”

The plan recommends that schools put into place screening and physical distancing protocols. Recommendations include assigned seating on buses and the possibility of needing more buses or alternatives schedules, modified layouts in classrooms, smaller class sizes when possible, staggered scheduling, and the closure of communal spaces such as dining halls and playgrounds. The plan also recommends serving kids food in classrooms instead of dining areas.

According to the plan, schools should consider requiring face coverings when social distancing isn’t feasible.

The plan includes recommendations for promoting behaviors that reduce the spread of the virus, including hand hygiene and educating staff and families on when they should stay home. The plan also includes several suggestions for maintaining a healthy environment that include cleaning and disinfection protocols.

Scenarios

The plan includes four scenarios for reopening developed by the National Institute for Excellence in Training that range from requiring remote learning for all students to returning all students to physical buildings. The scenarios are not comprehensive but include factors schools should consider before adopting one of the scenarios.

  • Scenario One: All Students in Physical Buildings from the Start of the School Year
    • The school meets the CDC school decision tree guidelines
    • There are none to minimal local/community cases of COVID-19
    • They have a governing board approved contingency plan
    • They have a comprehensive communication plan
    • They have clearly communicated screening expectations to staff and families
    • They have a plan for medically fragile staff and students
  • Scenario Two: Some Students in Physical Buildings and Some Students Distance Learning from the Start of the School Year
    • The school meets the CDC school decision tree guidelines
    • There are minimal to moderate local/community cases of COVID-19
    • The school has a governing board approved contingency plan
    • The school has a comprehensive communication plan
    • The school has clearly communicated screening expectations to staff and families
    • The school has a plan for medically fragile staff and students to not segregate students with disabilities from their non-disabled peers. Distance learning should be thoughtful and take into account considerations of disability-related learning needs.
    • The school has considered the digital divide for students on Tribal Nations and others who lack connectivity or devices.
  • Scenario Three: All Students Distance Learning from the Start of the School Year, with the Option of Returning to Physical Buildings when Appropriate
    • The school is not able to meet the CDC school decision tree guidelines
    • There are substantial local/community cases of COVID-19
    • The school has a governing board approved Emergency Distance Learning Plan
    • The school has a comprehensive communication plan
    • The school has clearly communicated educational expectations to staff and families
    • The school  has considered the digital divide for students on Tribal Nations and others who lack connectivity or devices
    • The school has determined the criteria for returning to physical buildings
  • Scenario Four: Intermittent Distance Learning throughout the School Year Based on Emergency Closures as Defined by Local and State Health Departments
    • All considerations from Scenario Three
    • The school has a plan for determining criteria and data necessary to return to physical school buildings.

Technology

The plan calls for schools to focus on connectivity, computing devices, and management and instructional platforms when thinking about technology. The plan asks schools to take into account some of the following considerations:

  • Schools should consider that some students are in a home with multiple children who need access to a single computing device to complete schoolwork.
  • To the extent possible, schools should provide students with individual computers or tablets with accessories sufficient to participate in video classrooms and each household with the hardware and WiFi access (such as hotspots) necessary to provide consistent internet with adequate speeds.

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of activities by other federal, state, and local governments and influencers relevant to recovering from the pandemic.

  • Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued a stay-at-home order on July 10. Bottoms ordered the city to return to Phase 1 of the reopening plan, which says residents can only make essential trips and that restaurants and retail businesses may only provide curbside services. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) said in a statement the local order was unenforceable because it was more restrictive than the statewide order.
  • Boston, Massachusetts, entered Phase Three of the state’s reopening plan on July 13. The rest of the state entered Phase Three on July 6. Phase Three allows for the reopening of indoor fitness centers, museums, outdoor events, and guided tours.
  • The Los Angeles Unified School District announced Monday that campuses will not reopen to in-person instruction on Aug. 18 as previously scheduled. Superintendent Austin Beutner said that the decision was made because of an increase in cases in Los Angeles County and that the district did not feel confident in protecting the health and safety of its students and employees.
  • On July 1, an Arizona resident filed a lawsuit challenging New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) executive order requiring travelers entering New York from states with high COVID-19 infection rates to self-quarantine. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York. The plaintiff, Cynthia page, said she was forced to cancel a planned trip to Brooklyn as Arizona’s current rate of infection would require her to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. The plaintiff alleges Cuomo’s order violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantees of equal protection and due process, as well as the Privileges and Immunities Clause, which guarantees legal protections related to distinctively national citizenship, such as the right to interstate travel. The plaintiff alleges the quarantine is “the equivalent of a house arrest.” The plaintiff further alleges Cuomo’s order “lacks any rational basis, is arbitrary, capricious, and vague, has no real or substantial relation” to the aim of mitigating the spread of COVID-19, “and is beyond all question, a plain, palpable invasion of rights secured by fundamental law.” Cuomo has yet to release any statement related to the complaint. The case is assigned to Judge David N. Hurd, an appointee of President Bill Clinton (D).
  • The Empire State Building’s observatory is scheduled to reopen on July 20 at reduced capacity. Visitors will be screened for symptoms before entering.



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