Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: July 14, 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 yesterday? Click here.

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • Kansas (divided government): On July 15 at 3:00 p.m., Gov. Laura Kelly (D) is expected to hold a press conference at which she’ll discuss the state’s plan for reopening schools in the coming academic year.
  • Louisiana (divided government): The Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is expected to meet in the afternoon on July 14 to approve emergency health safety rules for the reopening of schools in the fall. We will have more on these developments in tomorrow’s edition.
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced the state’s face covering mandate will expand to require masks in outdoor public spaces when six-foot distancing cannot be maintained starting July 15. Brown also said the state will prohibit indoor social gatherings of more than 10 people.

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.

  • Hawaii (Democratic trifecta): Gov. David Ige (D) announced he was extending the quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers through Sept. 1. Previously, Ige had said a new program would take effect Aug. 1 that would allow visitors to avoid the quarantine requirement by presenting a negative coronavirus test. The program will not start before Sept. 1.
  • Michigan (divided government): On July 13, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed Executive Orders 2020-148 and 2020-149. The first of these orders extends infection control procedures for nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The second order requires that grocery stores and pharmacies continue to allocate at least two hours per week of shopping time for vulnerable populations. Both orders extend through Aug. 10.
  • New Hampshire (divided government): Gov. Chris Sununu (R) released guidance for reopening schools for the 2020-2021 school year. Sununu said the plan is meant to give school districts local control over how they reopen. Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut said he expected students back in schools in September.
  • North Carolina (divided government): Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced on July 14 that the state would remain in Phase Two of reopening until Aug. 7. Previously, the state had been scheduled to enter Phase Three on July 17. Cooper also released the state’s school reopening plan, which emphasizes a combination of in-person instruction and distance learning.
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): Effective July 14, the statewide limit on gatherings decreased from 100 people to 25. Bars in Monongalia County will also be closed for 10 days.
  • Connecticut, New Jersey, New York (Democratic trifectas): Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that New Mexico, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Minnesota had been added to the joint travel advisory originally announced June 24. Travelers from those states will need to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arriving in the tristate area. Delaware, which was added to the list on July 7, has been removed. The list now includes 22 states. Gov. Cuomo also announced that visitors to New York from those 22 states will need to fill out a form with contact information or face a $10,000 fine. Gov. Lamont said Connecticut would join New York in requiring visitors to fill out a similar form.

Tracking industries: Indoor gathering limits

All 50 states are reopening in some way. Here, we give the status of one industry or activity across the states. Today’s question: what is the indoor gathering size limit in each state?

We last looked at indoor gathering size limits in the July 9th edition of the newsletter.

  • Fifteen states have no statewide indoor gathering size limit. Twelve of those states have Republican governors and three have Democratic governors.
    • On July 9, 16 states had no limit. Louisiana was the one state with a Democratic governor to enact a limit.
  • Eleven states have a limit between 1 and 25. Seven of those states have Democratic governors and four of those states have Republican governors.
    • On July 9, 11 states had a limit between 1 and 25.
  • Seventeen states have a limit between 26 and 50. Eleven of those states have Democratic governors and six of those states have Republican governors.
    • On July 9, 14 states had a limit between 26 and 50.
  • One state (New Jersey) has a limit between 51 and 100. New Jersey has a Democratic governor.
    • On July 9, three states had a limit between 51 and 100.
  • Six states have limits greater than 100. Four of those states have Republican governors and two of those states have Democratic governors.
    • On July 9, six states had limits greater than 100.

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

Colorado’s Reopening Guidelines

The Colorado Department of Education released school reopening guidance on May 26. Department of Education Commissioner Katy Anthes said she hoped the plan would bridge “the gap between having a complete patchwork but also providing some consistency. There’s a diversity of communities across our state and those things really do need to be taken into consideration rather than having a one-size-fits-all approach.”

On March 18, Gov. Jared Polis (D) closed public schools through April 17. The state extended the closure on April 1. Polis ended the public school year on April 21.

Colorado does not have a statewide date for schools to reopen. School district reopening dates in the state range from early to late August, though many school districts have not yet announced when classes will start. According to EdWeek, public schools in Colorado traditionally start the academic year between early and mid-August, with the exact start date varying by district.

The state reopening plan recommends public schools follow the CDC reopening decision tree guidelines. The plan also requires schools to avoid reopening if the answer to any of the following questions is negative:

  • Will reopening be consistent with applicable state and local orders?
  • Is the school ready to protect children and employees at higher risk for severe illness?
  • Are you able to screen students and employees upon arrival for symptoms and history of exposure?

Context

Colorado is a Democratic trifecta. The governor is a Democrat, and Democrats hold majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. The state became a Democratic trifecta in 2018.

The following tables show public education statistics in Colorado, 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.

Colorado school metrics
Category Figure Rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $11,749 34
Number of students (’18-’19) 911,341 18
Number of teachers (’16-17) 52,014 21
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 1,915 19
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 17.15 13
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 42.2% 37
Colorado school revenue
Category Figure Rank
Total revenue $9,764,525,000 22
Percent from federal sources 7.4% 37
Percent from state sources 45.6% 28
Percent from local sources 47% 18

Details

District reopening plans

In most cases, districts have the final say on reopening decisions, as long as schools comply with state and local public health orders. The Department of Education’s guidance did not contain additional or specific requirements for districts.

In-person, hybrid, and online learning 

According to Colorado’s plan, a three-phase rubric guide is currently being developed to encourage schools and districts to flexibly move between in-person, hybrid, and remote learning schedules as necessary during the year.

Mask requirements

Under current health orders, teachers are required to wear masks in classrooms. The plan encourages students and other visitors to wear masks.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

The state outlined the following general requirements for schools:

  • Daily temperature checks, tracking, and symptom screening for faculty, students, and visitors entering the building.
  • Colorado currently prohibits gatherings of more than 10 individuals indoors unless there is a specific exception. The state has not issued an exception for schools.

The state outlined the following general recommendations for schools:

  • Use tools like the Health and Safety Considerations Checklist and the General Readiness Assessment for schools to ensure preparedness.
  • Identify district and school coordinators tasked with addressing COVID-19 Health and Safety Needs.
  • Encourage staff or students who are sick to stay at home.
  • If a student or faculty member tests positive for the virus, close the school for 2-5 days to disinfect and conduct contact tracing.
  • Increase hygiene and cleaning protocols.
  • Prepare other mitigation strategies (like mask requirements) when social distancing is not possible.
  • Designate an isolated health room for students and faculty exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.

Transportation and bussing requirements and restrictions

Drivers are required to wear masks on school busses. The state plan also recommends:

  • Taping marks where students should sit in keeping with proper social distancing.
  • Implementing assigned seating.
  • Asking students to sit at least six feet away from the bus driver.
  • Load busses from back to front.
  • Increased hygiene and disinfecting practices.

Florida’s reopening guidelines

On June 11, the Florida Department of Education released reopening guidance for public schools. That same day, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said that he expected schools to reopen to in-person instruction at full capacity in August.

On March 13, the state Department of Education closed public schools for two weeks effective March 16. The state extended the closure twice, on March 17 and March 30, before DeSantis ended the public school year on April 18.

Florida does not have a statewide date for schools to reopen. According to EdWeek, public schools in Florida traditionally start the school year between early and mid-August, with the exact start date varying by district.

Context

Florida 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 Florida, 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.

Florida school metrics
Category Figure Rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $10,606 42
Number of students (’18-’19) 2,846,429 3
Number of teachers (’16-17) 186,339 4
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 4,234 5
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 17.3 11
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 58.10% 12
Florida school revenue
Category Figure Rank
Total revenue $26,789,374,000 7
Percent from federal sources 11.9% 9
Percent from state sources 39.8% 41
Percent from local sources 40.2% 17

Details

District reopening plans

The guidance does not provide any specific rules for schools to follow and instead defers to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Florida Department of Health, and local health authorities.

On July 6, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said that each school district, charter school governing board, and private school that accepts state scholarship money must develop and submit a reopening plan to the state that meets the requirements laid out in the guidance.

In-person, hybrid, and online learning 

The guidance itself does not dictate whether public schools must use a fully in-person schedule, a hybrid model, or online-only learning. On July 6, Corcoran said that all schools must be open for in-person instruction five days per week.

Mask requirements

The guidance encourages schools to follow CDC guidelines on cloth face coverings. It does not mandate the use of face coverings but says that schools should, at a minimum, be supportive of students and staff who voluntarily wear face coverings.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

The guidance provides several recommendations for districts to follow social distancing recommendations from the CDC, including modifying the school day and altering drop-off and pick-up procedures.

On modifying the school day:

  • Keep groups of students together throughout the day to minimize the number of people in close contact with each person
  • Convert cafeterias, libraries, and other large spaces into classroom space
  • Allow students in eat meals in traditional classrooms or outdoors
  • Limit nonessential mass gatherings or reschedule as virtual meetings

On drop-off and pickup:

  • Set up hand hygiene stations at or near entrance and exit points
  • Create distinct entrance and exit points to avoid congestion
  • Stagger arrival and drop-off times to reduce potential congestion
  • Have the same individual drop off and pick up a child every day
  • Avoid having elderly or vulnerable family members pick up children

Transportation and bussing requirements and restrictions

The guidance recommends that districts and schools explore the use of cloth face coverings on school buses. It also recommends that bus and class schedules be aligned with seating arrangements when possible to create clusters of students who will spend the majority of their days together.

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.

  • On July 10, Judge John Cooper, of Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit Court, denied a motion to prohibit Leon County’s mask ordinance. The lawsuit, one of nine filed by attorney and state Representative Anthony Sabatini (R) on behalf of plaintiffs across the state, challenges the constitutionality of Leon County’s Emergency Ordinance 20-15, enacted on June 23 as a response to COVID-19. The ordinance requires individuals to wear face coverings while inside public businesses to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The plaintiff, a Leon County resident and business owner, alleges the ordinance violates guarantees of privacy, due process, religious freedom, and equal protection under the Florida Constitution. Cooper dismissed arguments that the ordinance was impermissibly vague and found the science justifying the ordinance convincing, stating, “If people are going to go into businesses and spread it all over the place, then about the only thing available is a face mask.” Sabatini, who has filed similar lawsuits against Martin, Miami-Dade, Seminole, Orange, and Hillsborough counties, as well as the cities of St. Augustine, DeLand, and Jacksonville, has indicated an appeal will be filed in the First District Court of Appeal.



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