Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: July 16, 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 three days

What is changing in the next three days?

  • California (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is expected to announce updated guidance for reopening public schools on July 17.
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced he will decide on July 17 if New York City will be able to enter Phase 4 of reopening starting July 20. Cuomo also announced requirements for bars and restaurants in New York City. Under the Three Strikes and You’re Closed initiative, the state will close restaurants and bars found to violate mask and social distancing requirements three times.
  • Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): School districts must submit draft reopening plans to the Department of Education by July 17.

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.

  • Alabama (Republican trifecta): Gov. Kay Ivey (R) announced a mandatory mask order effective at 5 p.m. on July 16. Face coverings are required in public when interacting within six feet with people of another household. The order has a penalty of $500 or jail time.
  • Colorado (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Jared Polis (D) issued a mask mandate effective at midnight on July 17. The order requires individuals older than 10 to wear a mask inside buildings that are open to the public.
  • Georgia (Republican trifecta): Gov. Brian Kemp (R) issued an order preventing local governments from issuing mask requirements. The action voided 15 previously implemented local orders in the state.
  • Arkansas (Republican trifecta): Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed an executive order requiring individuals to wear masks in public when social distancing is not possible. The order will take effect on July 20.
  • Delaware (Democratic trifecta): Gov. John Carney (D) released guidance for reopening public schools for the 2020-2021 school year. Districts will use the guidance to create reopening plans that account for in-person, hybrid, and distance learning models.
  • Kansas (divided government): Gov. Laura Kelly (D) announced on July 16 that she will sign an executive order delaying the start of the public school year until Sept. 9 and requiring districts to use masks. The state board of education will need to approve Kelly’s decision to delay the start of school.
  • North Carolina (divided government): On July 14, the North Carolina Supreme Court granted Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) temporary request to suspend Senior Business Court Judge James Gale’s ruling that allowed bowling alleys across the state to reopen despite an executive order keeping them closed. Cooper closed bowling alleys, along with many other businesses and industries, in March. As part of the state’s reopening plan, some businesses have been allowed to reopen, including barbershops and restaurants. An association of bowling alleys filed the lawsuit against Cooper.
  • Pennsylvania (divided government): Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced new statewide restrictions to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. Effective June 16, bars and restaurants are no longer allowed to offer bar service, and alcoholic beverages are only available for take out or for sale with a dine-in meal at a table or booth. Occupancy limits in bars and restaurants are decreasing from 50% to 25%. The order also requires nightclubs to close, limits indoor gatherings to 25 people, and directs gyms to prioritize outdoor fitness activities (indoor operations are still allowed). The gathering limit restriction does not apply to religious institutions. Wolf’s administration also released a plan for reopening public schools. The guidance requires districts and charter schools to develop reopening plans for approval by the school’s governing body. Each plan must be posted on the school’s website before in-person operations resume.
  • Utah (Republican trifecta): Gov. Gary Herbert (R) announced on Twitter that he was modifying the state’s color-coded reopening plan to allow school districts in parts of the state in the orange (moderate risk) phase to reopen. Currently, Salt Lake City is the only city in Utah in the orange phase. With the modification to the reopening, all school districts in Utah can reopen.
  • Virginia (Democratic trifecta): On July 15, Virginia became the first state to adopt mandatory workplace safety regulations related to the coronavirus pandemic. The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry voted 9-2 to require employers to enforce social distancing and face coverings for public-facing employees.
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): The Washington Legislature extended three proclamations at the behest of Gov. Jay Inslee (D) issued in response to the coronavirus. The proclamations modified regulations related to shared work benefits, dental and pharmacy licensing, and in-person visits for foster care children. The proclamations were extended through Aug. 1.

Tracking industries: Nursing home visits

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 may you visit someone in a nursing home? This does not include end-of-life or other emergency-related visits. Visits limited to family members only, or that are only allowed outdoors, are counted as “visitors allowed” in the chart and map below.

We last looked at nursing home visitation in the July 8th edition of the newsletter. Since then, no new states have allowed or restricted visitation.

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

Louisiana’s reopening plan

On July 14, the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education unanimously approved Superintendent Cade Brumley’s proposed reopening guidelines. Brumley said that the guidelines were “minimum health and safety standards for every school in the state,” while allowing local districts to create their own specific plans.

On March 13, Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) issued an executive order closing K-12 schools until April 13. On April 2, Edwards extended the closure through April 30. On April 13, Edwards made the closure effective for the remainder of the school year.

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

Context

Louisiana has a divided government. The governor is a Democrat, and Republicans hold majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. The state has had a divided government since 2016.

The following tables show public education statistics in Louisiana, 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.

Louisiana school metrics
Category Figure Rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $12,542 31
Number of students (’18-’19) 711,235 25
Number of teachers (’16-17) 48,408 23
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 1,384 26
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 18.3 7
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 63.00% 5
Louisiana school revenue
Category Figure Rank
Total revenue $8,927,289,000 24
Percent from federal sources 14.7% 3
Percent from state sources 43.4% 34
Percent from local sources 41.9% 25

Details

District reopening plans

Under the guidelines, school districts are responsible for creating their own reopening plans in accordance with the guidelines. Brumley said each district must submit its plan to the state for approval, but did not say whether the plans had to be posted publicly.

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

Under the guidelines, school districts must decide whether students will learn face-to-face, remotely, or using a hybrid model. Individual students may be considered for remote or hybrid learning based on academic, social, emotional, familial, or medical needs.

Mask requirements

The guidelines state that adults and students in grades 3 through 12 must wear face coverings to the greatest extent possible.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

The guidelines place a limit on the number of individuals who can gather in a single room or outdoors at one time depending on the state’s reopening phase. During Phase One, 10 individuals can meet at one time. That limit expands to 25 during Phase Two and 50 during Phase Three.

In a presentation on the guidelines, Brumley laid out how schools would respond to positive cases. If a school becomes aware of a presumptive case, the individual in question should not attend school until determined to be non-infectious by their doctor. School superintendents will be given authority, in consultation with the Office of Public Health, to determine whether a school must close if it becomes a coronavirus hotspot. Brumley said that one positive case did not mandate the closure of a classroom or school.

Transportation and bussing requirements and restrictions

As with meeting size limits, the guidelines determine bus capacity by the state’s reopening phase. During Phase One, buses may operate at 25% capacity. That capacity expands to 50% during Phase Two and 75% during Phase Three.

Considerations For Reopening Mississippi Schools

The Mississippi Department of Education released school reopening guidance on June 8. The document contains recommendations for schools, school districts, and school boards, which have the final say on reopening decisions. Department of Education representative Jean Cook said the plan is “intended to be used as a resource and starting point for districts to consider local needs in collaboration with stakeholders.”

On March 19, Gov. Tate Reeves (D) closed public schools until April 17. Reeves ended the public school year on April 21.

Mississippi does not have a statewide date for schools to reopen. According to EdWeek, public schools in Mississippi traditionally start the academic year in early August, with the exact date varying by district.

Context

Mississippi 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 2018.

The following tables show public education statistics in Mississippi, 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.

Mississippi school metrics
Category Figure Rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $9,673 46
Number of students (’18-’19) 471,295 35
Number of teachers (’16-17) 31,924 32
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 1,055 34
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 14.8 29
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 75% 1
Mississippi school revenue
Category Figure Rank
Total revenue $4,550,410,000 34
Percent from federal sources 14.8% 2
Percent from state sources 51.1% 23
Percent from local sources 34.1% 34

Details

District reopening plans

School districts are not required to develop individualized reopening plans or submit plans to the state. Districts and schools have full discretion in implementing the state’s recommendations.

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

The school reopening plan allows districts to choose between an in-person, hybrid, and fully virtual learning schedule at their discretion. The state recommends districts consider the circumstances of their students, noting that schedules that integrate online work and attendance could cause problems for students in rural areas without consistent internet access.

Mask requirements

Mississippi’s plan does not require students or teachers to wear masks, but schools still must comply with state and local health orders. Schools are encouraged to contact the Department of Health before reopening to obtain mask-wearing guidance.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

The plan suggests schools using an in-person schedule develop and implement the following general procedures:

  • Daily screening protocols
  • Transportation adjustments
  • Routine disinfectant protocols
  • Consider keeping students static and moving teachers to limit interactions and assist with contact tracing
  • Create plan for serving students and adjusting duties for staff who cannot return to the building due to health issues
  • Limit student movement and restrict gatherings in buildings to achieve social distancing guidelines

Transportation and bussing requirements and restrictions

The plan suggests considering the availability of bus capacity before committing to a specific schedule type (such as hybrid or fully in-person). For schools using buses for fully in-person and hybrid schedules, the plan recommends the following:

  • Develop a plan in the event a bus driver tests positive for COVID-19.
  • Develop a plan in the event a student bus rider tests positive for COVID-19.
  • Keep a list of students who ride each bus daily. If a student on the bus tests positive for COVID-19, notifications to the bus riders’ parents will be needed.
  • Develop a process and monitoring protocol for daily bus sanitation. If double routes are operated, buses will need to be cleaned in-between routes.
  • If you have a camera system on buses, keep it operating during the cleaning of the buses to document sanitization efforts.

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.

Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland announced it will remain fully remote through at least January. The district is the second-largest in Maryland and one of the 25 largest in the country.




About the author

Ballotpedia staff
Bitnami