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Weekly Presidential News Briefing: August 7th, 2020

Every weekday, Ballotpedia tracks the news, events, and results of the 2020 presidential election.


Candidates by the Numbers


Notable Quotes of the Day“How the new VP candidate is rolled out is also an important test. Even if you believe my theory that the VP pick only matters for a few days, those few days are very important. Developing a showcase announcement tour that highlights the strengths of the candidate and how they both complement and reinforce each other is both a messaging challenge and a cultural test of how well the running mates and their respective staff members can work together. McCain and his staff had significant problems dealing with Palin and her staff. On the flip side, the bus tour out of the Democratic convention in 1992 cemented the generational change both Clinton and Gore were aiming to convey.”

Joe Lockhart, CNN

“The real margin of error is often about double the one reported. The notion that a typical margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points leads people to think that polls are more precise than they really are. Why is that? For starters, the margin of error addresses only one source of potential error: the fact that random samples are likely to differ a little from the population just by chance. But there are three other, equally important sources of error in polling: nonresponse, coverage error (where not all the target population has a chance of being sampled) and mismeasurement. Not only does the margin of error fail to account for those other sources of potential error, it implies to the public that they do not exist, which is not true.

Several recent studies show that the average error in a poll estimate may be closer to 6 percentage points, not the 3 points implied by a typical margin of error. While polls remain useful in showing whether the public tends to favor or oppose key policies, this hidden error underscores the fact that polls are not precise enough to call the winner in a close election.”

Courtney Kennedy, Pew Research Center


Week in Review

Biden makes $280 million in ad reservations in 15 battlegrounds

Joe Biden reserved $280 million in advertising—$220 million for television and $60 million for digital—that will target Donald Trump on his response to the coronavirus pandemic. The ads will air in 15 states, including 10 that Trump won in 2016: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, Iowa, and Ohio.

The Biden campaign released a national ad targeting Black voters on Thursday. “And just like our ancestors who stood up to the violent racists of a generation ago, we will stand up to this president and say, ‘No more,’” the ad’s narrator says.

Trump, Club for Growth attack Biden in new ads

Donald Trump resumed airing ads on Monday with a focus on early voting states, including Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina. Trump tweeted, “We are doing a new ad campaign on Sleepy Joe Biden that will be out on Monday. He has been brought even further LEFT than Crazy Bernie Sanders ever thought possible.”

The Trump campaign also released a new Spanish-language ad that connects Joe Biden and progressive policies to socialism in Latin America.

Club for Growth is launching a $5 million advertising campaign in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin attacking Biden for opposing emergency parental choice grants for school. The ad will begin airing on August 10 and run for three weeks.

Trump, RNC top Biden and DNC in July fundraising

Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee (RNC) announced on Wednesday that they raised $165 million in July, topping the $140 million raised by Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in the same month.

Trump and the RNC ended the month with more than $300 million on hand, while Biden and the DNC had $294 million.

Trump sues Nevada for mail-in ballot program, praises Florida’s process

The Donald Trump campaign filed a lawsuit against Nevada after the governor signed a bill that would automatically send mail-in ballots to active voters.

Trump tweeted, “In an illegal late night coup, Nevada’s clubhouse Governor made it impossible for Republicans to win the state. Post Office could never handle the Traffic of Mail-In Votes without preparation. Using Covid to steal the state. See you in Court!”

He said that he supported mail-in voting in Florida. “Over a long period of time, they’ve been able to get the absentee ballots done extremely professionally. Florida is different from other states,” he said.

Biden will not appear in Milwaukee to accept Democratic nomination

The Democratic National Convention Committee announced Wednesday that Joe Biden and other speakers will not travel to Milwaukee for the national convention. Biden will instead accept the nomination from Delaware.

West receives help from some Republicans in ballot access campaign

New York Magazine reported that one of Kanye West’s electors in Vermont, Chuck Wilton, is also a delegate to the Republican National Convention. Gregg Keller, the former executive director of the American Conservative Union, was listed as West’s point of contact in Arkansas.

Republican attorneys and activists in Colorado, Ohio, and Wisconsin have also been involved with West’s ballot access campaign.

When asked if his campaign was a spoiler since he would not be on enough ballots to win 270 electoral votes, West responded, “I’m not going to argue with you. Jesus is King.” On potentially hurting Biden’s chances in the race, West said, “I’m not denying it; I just told you.”

Hawkins loses ballot access suit in Ohio

The Sixth Circuit ruled on Monday that ballot access laws in Ohio were not unconstitutionally burdensome given the coronavirus pandemic. Howie Hawkins and independent candidate, Dario Hunter, had filed the suit for ballot access relief.

Debate commission rejects Trump’s request for fourth debate

Representing the Donald Trump campaign, Rudy Giuliani sent a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates requesting a fourth debate be held in early September before states begin sending out absentee ballots. If not, Giuliani said the third debate should be moved from October 22 to the first week in September.

The Commission on Presidential Debates rejected the Trump campaign’s request to add a fourth debate or alter the schedule. “While more people will likely vote by mail in 2020, the debate schedule has been and will be highly publicized. Any voter who wishes to watch one or more debates before voting will be well aware of that opportunity,” the commission’s co-chairs said.

Want more? Find the daily details here:


Facebook Spending


Poll Spotlight


Ad Spotlight


Candidates on the Issues


What we read this week

Flashback: August 3-7, 2016

  • August 3, 2016: Hillary Clinton placed campaign chair John Podesta and senior adviser Minyon Moore in charge of her White House transition operation.
  • August 4, 2016: The Green Party began its national convention in Houston.
  • August 5, 2016: U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) endorsed Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson, becoming the first member of Congress to do so.
  • August 6, 2016: Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka received the Green Party’s nominations for president and vice president., respectively.
  • August 7, 2016: John Kasich said the Trump campaign had contacted his aides about his interest in running for vice president.

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Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: August 6, 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.

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): The Hawaii High School Athletic Association voted to postpone moderate- and high-risk fall sports to January 2021. The change affects cheerleading, cross country, football, and girls volleyball.
  • Michigan (divided government): Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an executive order on Aug. 6 requiring children over the age of two and all employees to wear face masks at Michigan camps and childcare centers.
  • North Carolina (divided government): Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced on Aug. 5 that the state would stay in Phase 2 of reopening for five more weeks.
  • Rhode Island  (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 5, Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) announced a new metric for determining if schools can reopen to in-person instruction. Schools in any city or town with more than 100 positive cases per 100,000 residents will be prohibited from fully reopening to in-person instruction.
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): Gov. Jim Justice (R) released reopening guidance for public schools. Justice set a target reopening date of Sept. 8 and counties are required to submit their reopening plans by Aug. 14.

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 30th 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.

Maryland’s Maryland Together

On June 10, the Maryland Department of Education released Maryland Together, the state’s school reopening plan. Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon said, “As we move forward, State and local education leaders must recognize that long-standing gaps in educational opportunity and access have been further exposed and widened by the COVID-19 crisis. We want to ensure that students most impacted receive intense focus and priority in our recovery efforts.”

On July 22, Salmon said the goal for schools should be to return to in-person instruction by the end of the calendar year. She said districts would be left to decide whether to teach in-person or virtually in the fall.

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

On March 12, Salmon ordered all schools in the state to close from March 16 to March 27. The closure was extended on March 25 (through April 24) and April 17 (through May 15). On May 6, Salmon closed schools for the remainder of the school year.

Context

Maryland has a divided government. The governor is a Republican, and Democrats have majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. The state became a divided government in 2015.

The following tables show public education statistics in Maryland, 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.

Maryland public school metrics
Category Figure 50-state rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $16,553 13
Number of students (’18-’19) 896,827 20
Number of teachers (’16-17) 59,703 17
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 1,418 25
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 14.8 28
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 46.7% 27
Maryland public school revenue
Category Figure 50-state rank
Total revenue $14,521,045,000 13
Percent from federal sources 5.7% 44
Percent from state sources 43.5% 33
Percent from local sources 50.8% 15

Details

District reopening plans

Districts are responsible for developing their own specific reopening plans. Plans are due for state review and approval by Aug. 14. Districts must post their reopening plans on their official website.

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

The guidelines leave the decision for how to return to school for the fall semester up to school districts. Districts may choose from in-person, hybrid, or online-only options. The state guidelines recommended the following:

  • One-day rotation where 25% of students would attend once per week on alternating days
  • Two-day rotation where 50% of students would attend twice per week on alternating days
  • Alternating weeks where 50% of students would attend four times per week every other week
  • Elementary in-person learning and secondary distance learning
  • Grade band phase-in with elementary students returning to in-person learning first, followed by middle and high school in successive weeks

Mask requirements

The Maryland Department of Health and Maryland Department of Education released joint guidance on the use of cloth face coverings in schools on July 21.

  • School staff must wear cloth face coverings while in the school building, on school grounds when not contraindicated due to a medical condition, intellectual or developmental disabilities, or other conditions or safety concerns;
  • All students, school staff, and bus drivers must wear a cloth face covering while on school bus when not contraindicated due to a medical condition or developmental or safety considerations;
  • Other adults must wear cloth face coverings when they must enter the school building or grounds for essential functions;
  • Students, especially students in middle and high school, must wear cloth face coverings in the school building and on school grounds as much as possible when not contraindicated due to a medical condition or developmental or safety considerations;
  • The use of cloth face coverings is most important at times when physical distancing measures cannot be effectively implemented especially when indoors;
  • Local education agencies should examine the structure and schedule of the education program to identify when physical distancing may be a challenge;
  • Cloth face coverings should not be worn by children under 2 years and anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

The guidelines recommend the following considerations be made in district reopening plans:

  • Determine if face coverings (not PPE) are to be utilized by faculty/staff/students and what the LSS policy will be for adherence to the policy
  • Review procedures for sending ill persons home from the school facility
  • Determine if pre-designated entry and exit paths will be utilized
  • Determine pre-designated drop-off points for buses, parents
  • Determine if class changes are static (students remain in room, teachers change classrooms) or Fluid (Students change classrooms)
  • If fluid period/topic changes occur, determine:
    • Is locker use allowed, if not, secure from use
    • Determine distance and flow paths through facility, mark flooring, walls appropriately
    • Determine communication and outreach methods to students and parents for notification of above
    • Determine a “Use of restroom” policy that maintains distancing

Transportation and busing requirements and restrictions

The guidelines say that based on recommendations from the CDC, a 77-passenger bus would only be able to transport 8 students. The guidelines acknowledge districts may not be able to handle such transportation demands and offers the following ways to modify transportation:

  • Encouraging use of face coverings when use of alternate rows for seating is not possible.
  • Allowing siblings from the same household to sit together in the same seat.
  • Recommending passengers sit in the same seat going to and returning from the trip.
  • Allowing for alternate transportation arrangements, such as riding with a parent

Responses

Cheryl Bost, president of the Maryland State Education Association, criticized the guidelines for not providing enough specifics. “The newly released Maryland reopening plan is lacking in so many areas and punts on too many decisions,” she said.

Rhode Island’s Back to School RI

On June 19, Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) and Rhode Island Department of Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green released Back to School RI, the state’s guidance for reopening schools. It includes a blend of recommendations and requirements. The Rhode Island Department of Education required schools to submit reopening plans that take account of four different scenarios ranging from full in-person learning to full distance learning by July 17.

Gov. Raimondo, Commissioner Infante-Green, and Department of Health Director Nicole Alexander said in a joint statement on July 17, “Every step of the way, our state’s response to COVID-19 has been driven by science. We have rejected the false choice of an all-or-nothing approach and taken targeted, data-driven steps to keep Rhode Islanders safe. As we look toward reopening schools, we will continue to put public health first and to rely on facts and science in making the best decisions for the mental, physical, and intellectual needs of our students.”

Raimondo is expected to make a final announcement about when schools can reopen the week of Aug. 16. Previously, Raimondo said all schools would begin the year on Aug. 31.

According to EdWeek, public schools in Rhode Island typically start the academic year in late August or early September.

On Aug. 5, Raimondo announced schools in any city or town with more than 100 positive cases per 100,000 residents will be prohibited from fully returning students to classrooms for in-person instruction.

Raimondo first ordered schools to close on March 13. She extended that closure on March 30 and announced schools would not reopen to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year on April 23.

Context

Rhode Island has a Democratic trifecta. The governor is a Democrat, and Democrats have majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. The state became a Democratic trifecta in 2013.

The following tables show public education statistics in Rhode Island, 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.

Rhode Island public school metrics
Category Figure 50-state rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $11,531 36
Number of students (’18-’19) 138,444 45
Number of teachers (’16-17) 9,777 45
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 702 41
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 14.1 34
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 37.9% 43
Rhode Island public school revenue
Category Figure 50-state rank
Total revenue $1,254,995,000 43
Percent from federal sources 8.1% 32
Percent from state sources 40.5% 39
Percent from local sources 51.3% 14

Details

District reopening plans

The Rhode Island Department of Education requires all schools to submit reopening plans based on Back to School RI.

In recognition of the uncertainty, the State is requiring all schools to prepare for different scenarios, in accordance with the guidelines established below. RIDE and RIDOH will continue to update this document, and others, as more public health information and guidance become available.

Public schools will be required to submit their plans to RIDE by July 17, and RIDE will give feedback given to each school on an ongoing basis through July 28. Each Local Educational Agency (LEA) will be required to make its plan available to families and post it on their schools’ website no later than July 31.

While this document is written for public LEAs, private schools are also required to complete school reopening plans that are in alignment with the provided guidance and template documents to ensure the health and safety of their school community. While private schools are not required to submit their plans to RIDE, they should be able to produce plans upon request by RIDOH if a positive case or outbreak occurs. Each private school is required to have its plan available on its website by July 31.

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

The plan asks schools to develop reopening plans for three different scenarios: limited in-person learning, partial in-person learning, and full in-person. Back to School RI covers a third scenario—full distance learning for all—but schools are not required to include that scenario in the plans they submit to the Rhode Island Department of Education.

Back to School RI includes general guidance for how the three in-person scenarios incorporate distance learning:

  • Full In-person: Students who are unable to attend in-person classes must be provided with distance learning. LEA plans should address how distance learning will be utilized for classes, groups of students, or individual students who are home sick, due to quarantine, or other reasons.
  • Partial In-person: Some students attend classes in person while others participate in distance learning. LEA plans should address how distance learning will be utilized for classes, groups of students, or individual students who are home sick, due to quarantine or other reasons.
  • Limited In-person: Many students participate in distance learning classes. LEA plans should address how distance learning will be utilized for classes, groups of students, or individual students who are home sick, due to quarantine, or other reasons.

Mask requirements

According to a Back to School RI FAQ posted on the Rhode Island Department of Education website, masks are required for all students, even when social distancing is possible. A previous version of Back to School RI did not require face masks in situations that allowed for social distancing.

Face coverings play a critical role in mitigating risk related to COVID-19. As of 7/29/2020, the Governor, Commissioner, and RIDOH have decided that face coverings are required for staff and students in the K-12 setting, even when students are in stable groups and socially distanced (6+ feet apart). Schools may want to refer to the CDC guidance for wearing face coverings. Schools should acquire additional face coverings for students and/or staff who may forget them or not have their own. Additionally, when necessary and if available, teachers may use clear face coverings to improve communication, but face shields do not replace the need to wear a face covering. Any visitor must also wear face coverings. Children should be provided with the opportunity for mask breaks when it is safe to do so.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

Back to School RI includes guidance on class and group size limits and classroom layouts for high school students and students in elementary and middle schools under the three scenarios outlined above:

  • Full In-person Reopening Scenario
  • Elementary and Middle Schools: These students will be required to maintain stable groups of up to 30 (analogous to the pod method for summer camp and childcare). This capacity includes both students and staff. Stable groups help to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus. It is still expected that individuals within stable groups maintain as much physical distance as possible. Stable groups are designed to spend all or most of the day together as a group. Each class/pod will be expected to physically distance (14 feet) from every other class/pod.
  • High Schools: Recognizing that it is more difficult to establish and maintain stable groups in a high school schedule, more than one approach is possible. Stable groups are recommended and should be maintained whenever possible (i.e., students should stay in the same classroom and teachers should rotate rooms whenever possible). If stable groups are not possible, high school students must maintain six feet of physical distance and require the wearing of face masks if maintaining six feet of distance is not possible.
  • Partial In-person Reopening Scenario
  • Elementary and Middle Schools: These students will be required to maintain stable groups of up to 30 (analogous to the pod method for summer camp and childcare). This capacity includes both students and staff. Stable groups help to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus. It is still expected that individuals within stable groups maintain as much physical distance as possible. Stable groups are designed to spend all or most of the day together as a group. Each class/pod will be expected to physically distance (14 feet) from every other class/pod
  • High Schools: High Schools can select which of the following requirements they will follow:
    • Stable groups (up to 30 people) should be maintained whenever possible (i.e., student groups should stay the same and teachers rotate whenever possible); or,
    • If not able to maintain stable groups, approximately 50% of the students in a high school can be present in person at any one time.
  • Limited In-person Reopening Scenario
  • Elementary and Middle Schools: These students will be required to maintain stable groups of 15 or fewer in classrooms. Stable groups help to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus. It is still expected that individuals within stable groups maintain as much physical distance as possible. Each class/pod will be expected to physically distance (14 feet) from every other class/pod.
  • High Schools: High Schools can pick which of the following two requirements they follow: o Smaller stable groups (maximum of 15) should be maintained whenever possible (i.e., student groups should stay the same and teachers rotate whenever possible); o If not able to maintain stable groups, approximately 25% of the students in a high school can be in person at any one time.

Guidance for classroom layouts and the use of school spaces include the following:

  • General Spacing and Movement: Stable groups must occupy consistent space as much as possible. This means each stable group uses the same classroom every day, the same entrance every day (if possible), the same hallways, bathrooms, and other areas of the school building. When shared space is used by multiple stable groups or by high school students who are not in stable groups, disinfecting must occur in between the times when stable groups or groups of high school students use the space. Equipment and materials in shared spaces and in classrooms should not change from one student to another. Whenever possible, shared objects should be limited to sharing within that stable group.

The plan requires schools in the partial and limited in-person reopening scenarios to use assigned seating in each classroom. The plan recommends that assigned seating be used even under the full in-person scenario. The plan also requires students to face the same direction as much as possible.

The plan requires the following for hallways:

  • Hallways: During reopening in the fall, outlining a plan for hallway use and minimizing congestion will be an important step in the planning process. LEA plans must include strategies such as staggered passing times or one-way traffic in hallways. Plans must include how lockers may be used, with the strong recommendation of having students carry backpacks instead of using lockers

Transportation and busing requirements and restrictions

Back to School RI includes guidance on busing and student transportation under the three scenarios outlined above:

Some of the recommendations and requirements under the full in-person reopening scenario include:

  • All students on buses are required to wear masks (with the exception of children younger than age two and anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance).
  • Students using the bus are scheduled as a stable group, and the bus group is considered its own stable group
  • Hand sanitizer must be available and used when entering and exiting the bus.
  • Students are screened when getting on the bus and are seated to physically distance as much as possible.
  • All students have assigned seats on the bus and ride the same bus to and from school.
  • Students must sit one per seat, unless students are from the same household. Siblings and students from the same household should sit together.

The requirements are the same under the partial in-person reopening scenario, except that the overall capacity of the bus is reduced to 50%. Capacity is further reduced under the limited in-person reopening scenario to include one student person seat, using every other seat.

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, as well as influencers relevant to recovering from the pandemic.

  • Maricopa County Department of Public Health Director Marcy Flanagan said she believed schools in the metro Phoenix area were not yet ready to reopen. “We would not recommend in-class, teacher-led learning at this point,” Flanagan said. Flanagan said her department would release a data dashboard in the next week to help guide reopening decisions.
  • Boston Public Schools released a first draft of its reopening plan. The plan will allow parents to choose between a hybrid and remote learning model. The district set Sept. 10 as the first day of school.
  • Florida Education Association v. DeSantis: On Aug. 3, the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, filed an emergency motion requesting a status conference in its case against Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and the Florida Commission of Education. The union is seeking to block a state order it alleges mandates that schools physically reopen five days a week or lose critical funding. In response, Judge Spencer Eig, of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, set a hearing for Aug. 6 in which he was expected to rule on whether the suit is currently in the proper court. In its original complaint, the union argued that the state’s emergency order to reopen physical school classrooms “imposes mandates that make it impossible to comply with CDC guidelines on physical distancing, hygiene, and sanitation.” The union also alleges the order “comes with severe pressure” to physically reopen schools, as only those schools with state-approved reopening plans will be granted flexibility on student enrollment reporting, including funding based on pre-COVID full-time enrollment forecasts. According to the union, the state order violates Article IX, Section 1(a), of the Florida Constitution, which mandates safety and security in public schools. The union also alleges the order is an “unreasonable, inconsistent, and arbitrary and capricious” deprivation of the plaintiffs’ due process rights. The union is seeking an “injunction to prohibit all named defendants from taking actions to unconstitutionally force millions of public school students and employees to report to brick and mortar schools that should remain closed during the resurgence of COVID-19 cases.” An attorney representing DeSantis said that if the case is not transferred to a different court, they will file an appeal.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: August 5, 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.

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.

  • Arkansas (Republican trifecta): Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said that public schools in the state were still on track to reopen beginning Aug. 24. “We need to have school this year. Absolutely. I’m firm on that. The educators are firm on that. Public health is firm on [that]. We need to have school,” he said.
  • Delaware (Democratic trifecta): Gov. John Carney (D) announced that schools across the state could reopen using a combination of in-person and remote learning starting in September.
  • Louisiana (divided government): Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) announced he will extend Phase Two of the state’s reopening plan through Aug. 28, including the statewide mask mandate. The current order is scheduled to end on Aug. 7.
  • Michigan (divided government): On Aug. 4, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an executive order requiring the Michigan State Police and state departments to prioritize enforcement of her COVID-19 orders. She also ordered licensing agencies to consider license suspensions when violations occur.
  • Mississippi (Republican trifecta): Gov. Tate Reeves (R) issued a statewide mask order. Everyone five years of age or older must wear face coverings in indoor public spaces and outdoors when social distancing cannot be practiced. He also mandated that all students and teachers wear masks on school property. Reeves delayed school reopenings in eight counties to Aug. 17. Previously, the counties were allowed to set their own start dates for the academic year.
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 4, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced that the Washington Legislature had extended two of his COVID-19 proclamations through September 1. Inslee had requested the extensions in a July 23 letter. One proclamation says CARES Act payments and state and federal unemployment benefits may not be garnished for consumer debt. The other allows dental, dental hygiene, and pharmacy graduates to obtain temporary licenses.

Tracking industries: Restaurants

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 dine in at a restaurant?

We last looked at restaurants in the July 29th edition of the newsletter. Since then, no new states opened or closed dine-in services. The following policy changes regarding restaurants have occurred:

  • On July 29, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) announced the state’s guidance for restaurants will become requirements, effective Aug. 3. The order requires employees and patrons to wear masks at dining establishments, prohibits customers from gathering around bar areas, and limits dine-in to 50% occupancy.
  • On July 28, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) issued an executive order that prohibits restaurants, wineries, breweries, and distilleries from serving alcohol between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. The order took effect on July 31 at 11:00 p.m.

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

Delaware’s Returning to School plan

The Delaware Department of Education published its school reopening guidance on July 15. Secretary of Education Susan Bunting said, “This guidance document is meant to be used as support for district and charter leaders as they continue planning for the opening of the 2020-2021 school year. Essential safety protocols must be implemented by all Delaware schools, PreK-12. Additionally, actionable planning steps have been included for districts and charter schools to consider as they develop their own site-based plans.”

Delaware does not have a statewide date to reopen public schools, but Gov. John Carney (D) is expected to announce how schools will resume operations later in August, depending on the community spread of the coronavirus. According to EdWeek, public schools in Delaware traditionally start the academic year between Aug. 22 and Sept. 9.

On March 13, Carney closed schools from March 16 to March 27. On March 23, Carney extended the closure to May 15. The governor closed schools for the rest of the academic year on April 24.

Context

Delaware is a Democratic trifecta. The governor is a Democrat, and Democrats have majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. The state became a Democratic trifecta in 2009.

The following tables show public education statistics in Delaware, 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.

Delaware public school metrics
Category Figure 50-state rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $16,490 14
Number of students (’18-’19) 138,405 46
Number of teachers (’16-17) 9,208 47
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 227 50
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 14.4 32
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 48.1% 22
Delaware public school revenue
Category Figure 50-state rank
Total revenue $2,077,887,000 45
Percent from federal sources 8.7% 28
Percent from state sources 57.7% 12
Percent from local sources 33.6% 35

Details

District reopening plans

The document does not specifically require schools to develop individual reopening plans for approval or publishing. Schools are required to follow the state’s minimum basic requirements. Districts are encouraged to develop plans for three possible situations, based on the document’s guidance: Scenario 1 (minimal community spread), Scenario 2 (minimal-to-moderate community spread), and Scenario 3 (significant community spread).

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

The plan calls for fully in-person, hybrid, or fully remote classes, depending on the state’s rate of community spread. In Scenario 1, schools are open to fully in-person operations. Scenario 2 allows schools and districts to use a hybrid model to minimize contact and exposure. School buildings are not permitted to open in Scenario 3 and all learning must be conducted remotely. Later in August, Gov. Carney will announce which Scenario schools will need to use and if there are any regional differences in the state’s approach to reopening.

Mask requirements

All staff and students in grades 4-12 are required to wear masks in school buildings. The document recommends that students in pre-K through third grade also wear masks.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

The plan contains the following general safety guidelines for in-person operations:

  • Social distancing:
    • Students and staff should maintain the recommended distance of 6 feet or greater between individuals and must maintain a minimum of 3 feet apart with face coverings, including when seated at desks or standing in classrooms.
    • Individual desks should be used, reducing or eliminating shared table seating, to the extent practicable. When tables have to be shared, students should be seated the recommended 6 feet or greater between individuals and must be a minimum of 3 feet apart with face coverings.
    • Desks must be arranged so they are facing the same direction.
    • Hallways or corridors should flow either in one direction only or, if not possible, one direction on each side of the hallway with ample 6 feet of distance between students in single file flow on each side.
    • In group classes without tables, such as physical education, teachers should design activities that allow for social distancing.
  • Minimizing mixing and contact:
    • Students should be kept in stable groups throughout the day with little to no mixing of classes.
    • Families, outside visitors, and others entering the school should be as limited as absolutely possible. Adults who are assigned to work at the school, such as student teachers or before- and after-school staff, may be allowed as needed.
    • Off-site field trips must be discontinued.
    • Large-scale gatherings of more than 50 people should be avoided. Attendees at large-scale gatherings must be able to maintain 6 feet of social distancing at all times from non-household members.
  • Health status and monitoring:
    • Students and staff must stay home if they are exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 or have been confirmed to have COVID-19 or if required by DPH to isolate or quarantine.
    • Students and/or their families should complete a health assessment every morning before leaving for school, to the extent practicable.
    • Staff should also complete a health assessment every morning before leaving for school.
    • Schools must identify an area or room separated from others where a student or staff member who becomes ill at school can wait until they can be picked up, which should be arranged as soon as possible, or transported to a medical facility if necessary.
    • Testing educators and staff is a priority for the state. DDOE and DPH will work with all schools on how to make testing available and convenient. Additional guidance regarding testing is forthcoming.

For more specific guidelines, click here (starting on page 7).

Transportation and busing requirements and restrictions

The document directs school districts and charter schools to implement the following general mitigation tactics on buses:

  • Capacity must be limited by the number of students that can be seated between 3 or more feet apart on the school bus with face coverings (one student per row in staggered fashion, if possible). Students from the same family may sit together in one row, however. All staff and students 4th grade and higher must wear face coverings except when doing so would inhibit the individual’s health.
  • High-touch surfaces on buses (handrails, seat tops, particularly in first few rows) must be cleaned between every bus run with an EPA-approved solution.
  • Windows should be open to allow ventilation, as weather permits.

For more specific transportation guidelines, click here (starting on page 17).

Idaho’s Back-to-School Framework

On July 9, the Idaho Board of Education approved the Back-to-School Framework. The document says that it “outlines the expectations, support for local governance and decision-making, and guidance and best practices on the key operational components for safe reopening in the fall.”

The Framework replaced initial reopening guidelines that the Board had released on May 5 that was aligned with Gov. Butch Otter’s (R) reopening plan for the state as a whole.

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

On March 23, the board closed public schools across the state from March 24 to April 20. On April 6, the board closed public schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the school year or until social distancing protocols in the state were lifted. Officials said that individual schools could be approved to reopen if local social distancing orders were lifted and the school met criteria laid out by the board.

Context

Idaho is a Republican trifecta. The governor is a Republican, and Republicans have majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. The state became a Republican trifecta in 1995.

The following tables show public education statistics in Idaho, 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.

Idaho public school metrics
Category Figure 50-state rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $8,615 50
Number of students (’18-’19) 309,875 38
Number of teachers (’16-17) 16,204 39
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 759 38
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 18.5 6
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 45.8% 28
Idaho public school revenue
Category Figure 50-state rank
Total revenue $2,294,497,000 44
Percent from federal sources 10.7% 16
Percent from state sources 65% 6
Percent from local sources 24.3% 46

Details

District reopening plans

Local school boards are responsible for developing plans and procedures for responding to the pandemic while providing student instruction. Local health districts are expected to advise these boards on health safety plans and procedures.

The framework does not specify whether plans have to be approved by the state or posted publicly for review.

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

Under the framework, local health districts will assign categories (levels) to schools based on the level of transmission within their community using criteria established in the statewide reopening plan. Each of those categories has a definition and recommended level of school operations.

  • Category 1: No Community Transmission
    • Definitions: Evidence of isolated cases, case investigations underway, no evidence of exposure in large communal setting, e.g., healthcare facility, school, mass gathering.
    • Level of Operations: School buildings open with physical distancing and sanitation
  • Category 2: Minimal to Moderate Community Transmission
    • Definitions: Widespread and/or sustained transmission with high likelihood or confirmed exposure within communal settings, with potential for rapid increase in suspected cases.
    • Level of Operations: School buildings open but option of limited/staggered use of school buildings with physical distancing and sanitation
  • Category 3: Substantial Community Transmission
    • Definitions: Large-scale community transmission, healthcare staffing significantly impacted, multiple cases within communal settings like healthcare facilities, schools, mass gatherings, etc.
    • Level of Operations: Targeted, short-term, or extended building closure

Mask requirements

The framework provides recommendations on masks based on the category assigned by local health districts.

  • Category 1: Masks recommended for students and staff but not required.
  • Category 2: Masks recommended for students, staff, and visitors when practical.
  • Category 3: If staff are allowed in the building, all staff must follow all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on the use of masks. As of Aug. 5, those guidelines recommended that people wear masks in public settings.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

The framework provides health recommendations for use in all three categories of community spread for the following school operations: preventative measures, testing, student assessment, instruction, social emotional learning, at-risk populations, food service, transportation, and student athletics. To view specific recommendations and requirements in each area, click here.

Transportation and busing requirements and restrictions

Transportation recommendations are also based on the category of community spread.

  • Category 1: Drivers and students are encouraged to wear masks.
  • Category 2: Masks required for drivers and recommended for students. Utilize spaced seating and establish protocols for loading and unloading children from different households.
  • Category 3: Limit transportation to small groups of students from the same family that need to go to school facilities to receive services. Mask requirements are not outlined in the framework.

Responses

On July 20, Idaho Education Association President Layne McInelly said:

When school buildings across the state were closed this spring, the decision-making was based on science and data. That approach seems to have been abandoned in the rush to reopen schools this fall. Idaho is at or near the highest percentage growth in COVID-19 cases in the nation. That is a troubling backdrop for a rush to reopen schools where large numbers of people will be gathering, and health precautions will be difficult to achieve.

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, as well as influencers relevant to recovering from the pandemic.

  • The University of Connecticut canceled its 2020 football season, becoming the first member of the Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision to do so. “The safety challenges created by COVID-19 place our football student-athletes at an unacceptable level of risk,” said Athletic Director David Benedict.
  • Chicago Public Schools will begin the school year with online-only classes. School officials said that meal delivery for at-risk students would continue and that free broadband would be expanded to up to 100,000 families.
  • On Aug. 3, as the result of a challenge by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), Judge J. Paul Oetken of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York vacated portions of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) final rule implementing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA mandates that certain employers provide paid emergency sick and/or family leave to employees who are unable to work due to mandated COVID-19 quarantine or symptoms. The mandate extends to parents and guardians in the event of school or childcare unavailability. New York argued that the DOL violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) because the final rule restricts eligibility under the FFCRA in a manner that is “not authorized by, and conflicts with, the FFCRA. New York further argued the rule exceeds the FFCRA’s statutory by imposing additional burdens on employees seeking to claim benefits. In so doing, New York argued, the DOL was responsible for denying “vital financial support and exposing millions of American workers and their communities to further transmission of infectious disease in the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic.” Oetken vacated the final rule’s work-availability requirement, which made employees ineligible for leave under the FFCRA if their employer had no work for them because of COVID-related slowdowns or temporary closures. Oetken also struck down the DOL’s broad definition of a non-eligible health care provider, the requirement that an employee secure employer consent for intermittent leave, and the requirement that documentation is provided before taking leave. The remainder of the final rule was allowed to stand. Neither party has commented on the ruling, nor has the DOL indicated whether it will appeal or issue a new rule. Oetken is an appointee of Barack Obama (D).


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: August 4, 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?

  • Michigan (divided government): Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed an executive order allowing casinos in Detroit to open at 15% capacity on Aug. 5.
  • Mississippi (Republican trifecta): Gov. Tate Reeves (R) is expected to make an announcement and sign an executive order regarding school reopenings on Aug. 4.

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.

  • Arizona (Republican trifecta): Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said she believed schools in Arizona should not reopen for in-person instruction yet. Hoffman wrote, “As school leaders, we should prepare our families and teachers for the reality that it is unlikely that any school community will be able to reopen safely for traditional in-person or hybrid instructions by August 17th.”
  • California (Democratic trifecta): The California Department of Public Health created a waiver for elementary schools in counties on the state’s coronavirus watch list. The waiver would allow schools to open for in-person instruction as long as they meet certain criteria.
  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) modified the mask mandate for schools to allow students to remove masks in a classroom when they can maintain three to six feet of distance between themselves and others.
  • Iowa (Republican trifecta): Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) announced the state would not count any remote-learning days towards required instructional time for schools that did not offer at least 50% in-person instruction.
  • Nevada (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) announced the state would take a county-by-county approach to coronavirus restrictions. Officials will review data by county and the state will work with counties deemed at risk to determine further restrictions to prevent spread.
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Jay Inslee (D) released updated fitness guidance on Aug. 3 for counties in Phase 2 and Phase 3 of reopening, including a requirement that occupancy may not exceed 25% in large exercise facilities (more than 12,000 square feet).

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 28th edition of the newsletter. Since then:

  • New Jersey’s limit decreased from 100 to 25.
  • Oregon’s limit decreased from 50 to 10.
  • Pennsylvania’s limit decreased from 250 to 25.

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

California’s Stronger Together

The California Department of Education released a 55-page guidance document for reopening schools to in-person instruction on June 8. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said the guidance was not mandatory and the document’s goal was to provide multiple scenarios schools could choose from based on need.

On July 17, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) ordered counties on the state’s coronavirus watch list to begin the year with schools using fully remote learning. As of Aug. 4, 37 of the state’s 58 counties were on the watch list. The list is based on new infections per capita, test positivity rate, and hospitalization rate.

California does not have a statewide date for public schools to reopen—individual districts in counties not on the watch list can choose how and when to reopen. According to EdWeek, public schools in California traditionally start the school year between late August and early September.

Context

California is a Democratic trifecta. The governor is a Democrat, and Democrats have majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. The state became a Democratic trifecta in 2011.

The following tables show public education statistics in California, 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.

California public school metrics
Category Figure 50-state rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $13,943 21
Number of students (’18-’19) 6,171,666 1
Number of teachers (’16-17) 271,287 2
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 10,437 1
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 23.1 2
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 58.1% 12
California public school revenue
Category Figure 50-state rank
Total revenue $74,395,627,000 1
Percent from federal sources 9.6% 20
Percent from state sources 57.2% 14
Percent from local sources 33.2% 37

Details

District reopening plans

Districts are intended to use the guidelines to develop their own specific reopening plans.

The intent of this document is to be a guide for local discussion on reopening schools. It is not a “one-size-fits-all” document; rather, it is a document that honors the varied local contexts of each of our local educational agencies (LEAs). This guidance document was developed with the most current information known at the time and may be updated as new data becomes relevant. This guide will provide checklists, essential questions for consideration, and examples of best practices. . . . LEAs need to work with their local health departments and local stakeholders to ensure that their protocols align with the most current scientific knowledge and community expectations. It is also reasonable to expect that the protocols schools implement will change as the local conditions change.

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

The guidelines do not provide one specific requirement or recommendation for LEAs. Instead, the guidelines provide several scheduling model options LEAs can use to build their own plans. Those scheduling models are:

  • Example A: Two-Day Rotation Blended Learning Model
    • Students report to school on two designated days based on grade level for in-person instruction (example: Monday/Wednesday for grade levels K–3, Tuesday/Thursday for grade levels 4–6). On the other days, students are engaged in enrichment opportunities aligned with academic goals established by the school through various programs, either on site or with community partners, that are coordinated by school instructional staff.
  • Example B: A/B Week Blended Learning Model
    • Half of the student population attends in-person learning opportunities four full days per week while the other half is engaged in distance learning opportunities. The students would alternate each week. All grade bands would be included. The instructional program would be sequenced to accommodate both asynchronous and synchronous learning opportunities for students.
  • Example C: Looping Structure
    • For schools serving grade levels TK–8, there is an opportunity for students to stay with the same teacher in cohorts for multiple grade levels. Looping provides opportunities for improved relationships between students and teachers, more targeted and efficient instruction, and a higher attendance rate. For example, a teacher and student cohort would stay together for first and second grade, increasing the opportunity for literacy rates on or above grade level. Teachers and students staying together over multiple grade levels can build a better understanding of health and safety, decreasing risks to students and staff.
  • Example D: Early/Late Staggered Schedules
    • Grade level bands would have staggered start and dismissal times, such as AM/PM rotations (for example, TK–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–10,11–12). The bell schedule would accommodate multiple recesses and lunch periods and multiple meal distribution points, along with time for students to engage in handwashing before entering classrooms. Students could be in a homeroom with teachers rotating to decrease student congregation in hallways

Mask requirements

The guidelines say that based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, all staff should wear face coverings. Teachers may instead use face shields so students can see their faces.

The guidelines say “students should use cloth face coverings, especially in circumstances when physical distancing cannot be maintained.” If LEAs require the use of face coverings, the guidelines require LEAs to provide face coverings for students.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

The guidelines provide suggestions and checklists for LEAs in building plans in the following 10 areas:

  • Local conditions to guide reopening decisions
  • Plans to address positive COVID-19 cases or community surges
  • Injury and illness prevention plan
  • Campus access
  • Hygiene
  • Protective equipment
  • Physical distancing
  • Cleaning/disinfecting
  • Employee issues
  • Communication with students, parents, employees, public health officials, and the community

Transportation and busing requirements and restrictions

The guidelines recommend that students wear face coverings while on a bus.

The guidelines leave determining bus occupancy up to LEAs based on physical distancing guidelines. The state also recommends that students be seated in order of boarding/unloading to prevent students from passing one another. Buses should be assigned aides to ensure distancing, enforce seating arrangements, and screen for symptoms.

Responses

On July 9, the California Teachers Association sent a letter to state officials in response to school reopening plans.

Simply said, California cannot reopen schools unless they are safe. Unfortunately, many local districts and communities don’t have the necessary resources or capacity to maintain even the most basic prevention measures of six feet physical distancing and limiting contacts, much less the other important preventative actions such as personal protective equipment (PPE), testing and tracing, or adequate ventilation and cleaning supplies. While no one method of prevention by itself is 100 percent effective, layered strategies boost prevention with each measure knocking off some percentage of exposure and potential infection. This includes a clear and manageable plan to implement measures like physical distancing of six feet, reducing the number of contacts, face coverings, handwashing, daily health screening, support for sick and at-risk people to stay at home, robust testing, good ventilation (with absolutely no recirculated air), and cleaning and disinfecting.

Connecticut’s Adapt, Advance, Achieve: Connecticut’s Plan to Learn and Grow Together

On June 25, Gov. Ned Lamont (D) and Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona announced “Adapt, Advance, Achieve: Connecticut’s Plan to Learn and Grow Together,” a reopening framework centered around six guiding principles and a series of operational considerations. The plan includes a mixture of requirements and optional guidance based on best practices. The plan was last updated on Aug. 3.

Lamont said, “While we’ve made good strides to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in Connecticut, the virus hasn’t gone away and we need to do what we can to keep students and staff safe while also doing our best to provide our young people with access to an education that prepares them for the future. Working with public health and medical experts, and with the support of our educators, we are preparing a number of steps that protect the health and safety of everyone who makes contact with our school system.”

According to EdWeek, Connecticut schools typically start the last week in August. The Connecticut State Department of Education asks districts to plan for all students to return to classrooms this fall so long as public health continued to support the state’s school reopening model.

On March 15, Lamont first ordered schools closed to in-person instruction from March 16 to March 31. He extended the closures on March 23 and April 9, before closing schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year on May 5.

Context

Connecticut is a Democratic trifecta. The governor is a Democrat, and Democrats have majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. The state became a Democratic trifecta in 2011.

The following tables show public education statistics in Connecticut, 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.

Connecticut public school metrics
Category Figure 50-state rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $21,628 2
Number of students (’18-’19) 514,698 30
Number of teachers (’16-17) 42,343 26
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 1,023 35
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 12.3 45
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 35.7% 48
Connecticut public school revenue
Category Figure 50-state rank
Total revenue $11,376,740,000 18
Percent from federal sources 4.2% 49
Percent from state sources 41% 37
Percent from local sources 54.8% 8

Details

District reopening plans

All Local Education Agencies (LEAs), including charter schools, were required to submit reopening plans to the Connecticut State Department of Education by July 24. The State Department of Education said while it would not approve the plans, it would hold on to the plans in case schools required technical assistance.

The guidance states:

While the guiding principles of this document will require all LEAs to approach this with a certain level of consistency, LEAs retain discretion in implementing the approach to full time reopening. School boards are encouraged to develop local teams and secure input from all members of the community regarding the complex approach to resuming classes in the fall. The CSDE will stand ready to provide technical support and anticipates that this document will be followed by ongoing support documents, resources, and a variety of templates to assist local planning.

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

The plan says schools should plan to return students to classrooms in the fall, so long as the public health data supports doing so.

LEAs should plan to have all students, in all districts, return to schoolhouses for fulltime instruction at the beginning of 2020–2021, so long as public health data continues to support this model. This model will be supported with more intensive mitigation strategies and specific monitoring, containment and class cancellation plans. In addition to full-time instruction plans as indicated above, LEAs must be prepared to modify their plans to support a partial reopening or to allow for scaling back at a future date if the public health data changes.

The plan also says schools should: “Plan for educational opportunities to be primarily in-person, but allow for students and parents to choose not to participate based upon individual considerations.”

The plan includes a tiered system for helping schools determine which education model to adopt. The “Low”, “Moderate,” and “High” tiers correspond to the spread of COVID-19 in an area.

In the “Low” category, schools can operate “up to 100% capacity, students/staff with underlying medical conditions should consider restrictions and blended/remote learning.” Buses can operate “up to full capacity with bus monitors recommended, facial coverings in place during transit, controlled loading/unloading of riders.”

In the “Medium” category, schools can operate  “at reduced capacity, with more reliance on hybrid model, blended/remote learning, prioritize access to school building for students who need the more learning support, including but not limited to those receiving special education, ELs or limited access due to devices or connectivity issues.” Buses can operate at “reduced capacity with bus monitors strongly recommended, facial coverings in place during transit, controlled loading/unloading of riders, spaced seating between unrelated riders.” The plan also calls for indoor extracurricular activities to be suspended.

In the “High” category, schools are “closed, 100% remote learning, bus transportation suspended, extracurricular activities, including sports, should be suspended.”

The plan requires schools to do the following:

  • Develop a plan for school class cancellations and reopening to be implemented in the event that the superintendent, their designee, or state government suspends or cancels in-school classes for some or all participants.
  • Assume that any decision about school closure, reopening, or cancellation of school events will be made in coordination/collaboration with local health officials, and with the advice of the school medical advisor (if any) and school nurse supervisor.
  • Prioritize ongoing educational opportunities when drafting the plan for shutdown. Materials for continuity of learning must be made available to allow for school sessions to continue remotely

Mask requirements

The plan requires staff and students to wear face coverings when inside school buildings and provides suggestions for communicating those policies.

The plan requires the following:

  • Adopt policies requiring use of face coverings for all students and staff when they are inside the school building, with certain exceptions listed below.
    • For anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance, face coverings and masks should not be required, per CDC guidance.
  • Be prepared to provide a mask to any student or staff member who does not have one.

Other suggestions include:

  • Teach and reinforce use of cloth face coverings.
  • Set clear guidelines regarding limited exceptions to use of face coverings when other mitigating practices are in place, such as:
    • For students, while eating, drinking, during PE, or when students are outside, and effectively practicing social distancing and any other possible mitigants. Exceptions may also be necessary for certain special education students or other special populations
    • For teachers and staff, while teaching so long as they are properly socially distancing or remaining static behind a physical barrier as described herein, while eating, drinking, or when outside and effectively practicing social distancing and any other possible mitigants.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

The plan requires the following for classroom layout:

  • Maximize social distancing between student workstations, achieving 6 feet when feasible, when determining the classroom layout. Desks should face in the same direction (rather than facing each other), or students should sit on only one side of tables, spaced apart.
  • Where necessary, assess other space that may be repurposed for instruction in the school, in municipal or other community space, or if the school will require additional modular space.
  • Maximize space between the teacher and students due to the risk of increased droplets from teachers during instruction. If a teacher removes face covering or mask during instruction, spacing should be increased beyond six feet. For teachers who stay seated, a physical barrier may be an effective option.

The plan encourages schools to sort students into stable cohorts.

  • Implement the key strategy of establishing stable cohorts within the school population, when feasible. Placing students in cohorts is strongly encouraged for grades K–8, and encouraged where feasible for grades 9–12.
  • Assign classroom groups with teams of teachers and support personnel, and as much as possible restrict mixing between teams.
  • When possible, have teachers of specific academic content areas rotate, instead of student groups.
  • Where schools have different entrances, assign cohorts a specific entry and exit that remains consistent day-to-day. Consider similar design for assignment of restrooms, classrooms, and outside space where it is possible to restrict primary use to a single cohort, or consistent group of cohorts.

Transportation and busing requirements and restrictions

The plan includes the following recommendations for preparation:

  • Consider gathering data from families to properly plan for resuming classes in the fall, including an assessment of the number students expected to attend, and whether parents or guardians plan to transport their children.
  • Consult with municipal leaders, including public safety officials, to assess the approach if the school determines parents/guardian transportation is an option, including whether the school can safely accommodate the traffic, and whether local streets will be impacted.
  • Understand that parents or guardians generally cannot be compelled to transport their children if they choose not to, in which case the LEA maintains responsibility for transporting the student.
  • Include all transportation providers, including public and contracted bus company representatives where applicable, in planning a return to service.

The plan includes the following recommendations for pick up/drop off:

  • Assess if a staggered arrival and drop off, properly communicated, will enhance safety protocols in place.
  • Plan vehicle flow and logistics particularly if there are more family transport vehicles.
  • Consider arrival/departure procedures that limit unnecessary entrance of parents and guardians into the building.

Responses

On June 25,  Connecticut Education Association (CEA) President Jeff Leake and AFT Connecticut Vice President Mary Yordon released a statement in response to Lamont’s reopening plan:

Governor Lamont’s plan, released today, is short on specifics and doesn’t address some of the most pressing issues associated with reopening our buildings this fall. The new plan raises many concerns and leaves dozens of unanswered questions regarding how schools will operate in a COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) world. Simply directing district officials to follow generic CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommendations, without customizing requirements for the realities of our school settings, is insufficient for a safe statewide reopening.

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, as well as influencers relevant to recovering from the pandemic.

  • On July 29, a group of inmates at the Tulare County Jails sued Sheriff Michael Boudreaux in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, seeking the implementation of an array of COVID-19 safety measures. The plaintiffs are asking that the court issue an order directing Boudreaux to:
    • provide universal staff and inmate COVID-19 testing,
    • release inmates who are medically vulnerable and pose a low-flight-risk,
    • provide (and require staff to wear) personal protection equipment,
    • allow attorney access to incarcerated clients, and
    • quarantine those exposed to the novel coronavirus.
  • Plaintiffs allege that because Boudreaux has failed to implement CDC-recommended response measures, he has “actively interfered with incarcerated people’s ability to protect themselves.” The plaintiffs allege they have been placed in “imminent danger of serious illness or death from the virus.” Plaintiffs also allege Boudreaux’s visitation policy “has prevented incarcerated people from engaging in confidential attorney visits.” They say the policy interferes with “efforts to meet confidentially with civil rights attorneys about the appalling conditions in the jail.” The plaintiffs allege Boudreaux’s actions violate the First, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Boudreaux said, “We are doing everything that we can with the information and tools available to us to keep our inmates safe and healthy.”


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: August 3, 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.

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.

  • Arkansas (Republican trifecta): On July 31, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) announced that high school football and volleyball practices could begin on Aug. 3. Hutchinson also announced the creation of the High School Sports Advisory Group, a 14-person committee meant to advise the governor and state Department of Health on how to approach school sports for the fall 2020 season.
  • Maryland (Divided government): On Aug. 3, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said that private and religious schools could choose when to reopen. He issued an emergency order preventing county officials from requiring such schools to remain closed. On July 31, Montgomery County Health Officer Travis Gayles ordered private schools to close. Hogan called the order “overly broad and inconsistent with the powers intended to be delegated to the county health officer.”
  • Nevada (Democratic trifecta): On July 31, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) extended his emergency order limiting businesses to 50% capacity and indoor gatherings to 50 people. The new order lasts until canceled or modified. The previous order was set to expire on July 31.
  • New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Phil Murphy (D) lowered the state’s cap on indoor gathering limits from 100 people to 25. The order does not apply to religious gatherings, weddings, funerals, or political activities. Murphy also announced all students will be required to wear face coverings in schools, with exceptions for students with disabilities.
  • Tennessee (Republican trifecta): On July 31, Gov. Bill Lee (R) issued Executive Order 55, which removes restrictions on contact sports, including football and soccer, so long as organizations and schools follow safety guidelines. The order also extended an earlier executive order that permitted local governments to determine mask requirements.

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 July 27th edition of the newsletter. Since then, no states have enacted or rescinded a mask mandate.

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

South Dakota’s Starting Well 2020

In June, the South Dakota Department of Education partnered with the Department of Health to release “Starting Well 2020,” a series of documents containing guidance on reopening and daily operations for K-12 schools. The documents cover several areas, including guidelines for teachers, special education, libraries, distance learning, school buses, and COVID-19 mitigation. Many of the guidelines were updated throughout July.

South Dakota does not have a statewide date for public schools to reopen. According to EdWeek, schools in South Dakota typically start in mid-August.

On March 17, Gov. Kristi Noem (R) first ordered schools to close. On March 24, Noem extended the closures through May 1. On April 6, Noem ordered schools to close to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year.

Context

South Dakota is a Republican trifecta. The governor is a Republican, and Republicans have majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

The following tables show public education statistics in South Dakota, 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.

South Dakota public school metrics
Category Figure 50-state rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $11,531 36
Number of students (’18-’19) 138,444 45
Number of teachers (’16-17) 9,777 45
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 702 41
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 14.1 16
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 37.9% 43
South Dakota public school revenue
Category Figure 50-state rank
Total revenue $1,420,613,000 50
Percent from federal sources 14.9% 1
Percent from state sources 30.4% 49
Percent from local sources 54.8% 8

Details

District reopening plans

“Starting Well 2020” calls for school leaders to “develop plans in concert with local government and state health officials, using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the South Dakota Department of Health as key resources to inform their decision making.” The guidance says plans should be adaptable to changing conditions. It also asks schools to communicate their plans with staff, students, and communities.

The state does not need to approve schools’ plans. “Starting Well 2020” contains the following guiding principles for schools:

  • Schools can take practical steps to mitigate spread of the virus while continuing to focus on student learning.
  • Each district will make decisions based on scientific information at the time, current status of virus spread in and around the school community, and best interests of staff, students, and families.
  • Schools will continue to be a safe environment for students, focusing on both social-emotional and physical health. Local decisions will be rooted in what is best for students.

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

“Starting Well 2020” says “Schools will provide instruction in the fall and throughout the 2020-21 school year, with a priority placed on face-to-face instruction.” However, schools are encouraged to develop flexible plans that allow for remote learning when necessary.

Whether a district is able to accommodate long-term remote learning and instruction in the classroom, in parallel throughout the year, is a local decision. Districts are encouraged to determine to what extent, if any, such parallel instruction can be accommodated and communicate that policy to parents and the community. Districts are further encouraged to set policies that, to the extent practical, provide for stability in the learning environment when allowing for long-term remote learning.
Regardless of other factors that currently exist, SD DOE recommends districts have a plan in place for fully remote learning and building closures should circumstances dictate during the year. (Example: a student tests positive and you need to close a section of your school upon SD DOH recommendation for cleaning. Or, there are multiple active cases in your school, necessitating additional steps based upon SD DOH recommendations).

Mask requirements

The South Dakota Department of Education is not requiring students or staff to wear masks. The decision is left up to schools and districts. The Department of Health and Department of Education back-to-school FAQ says:

“The DOH and DOE encourage school leaders to use a variety of mitigation strategies in their planning for SY 2020-21. In selecting which to use, school leaders need to balance public health considerations and current conditions of the virus in their communities with the overall health of students and staff.”

In-person health recommendations and requirements

Schools should answer the following questions before reopening:

  • Have appropriate safety inspections, including water quality, been conducted in accordance with state statute, regulation, and CDC guidelines for buildings that have been unoccupied for long periods of time?
  • Are sufficient inventories of cleaning supplies and procedures in accordance with the school’s opening plans (see below) in place?
  • Will additional protective devices for personnel be necessary to procure prior to opening? (See below; for example, plexiglass for reception areas, cafeteria cashiers, and other high traffic/high contact areas).
  • Are you able to replace touch equipment with touchless (for example, PIN pads used in the cafeteria, automatic soap dispensers, paper towel dispensers, hand dryers, etc.)?
  • Have you developed a protocol for bus transportation and drop-off/pick-up of students? (See below regarding transportation).

The guidance includes the following information on classroom design decisions:

  • Understand how many students you will have in your building, grade, classroom during peak times (given traditional enrollment numbers, any remote learning accommodations or “opt outs,” etc.) 2. Can you reorient desks in classrooms to minimize students facing each other?
  • Can you reorient desks in classrooms to minimize students facing each other?
  • Consider how to minimize the number of students in the hallways at any one time, and the number of times students change classrooms where possible.
  • For classrooms where this is not possible to change orientation (for example, lab spaces), consider steps to minimize the number of students in the room at any one time as appropriate.
  • What steps can you take to minimize sharing of high touch materials (example: art supplies, classroom libraries, etc.)

Transportation and busing requirements and restrictions

“Starting Well 2020” including the following considerations for transportation and busing:

  • Determine whether you have the vehicles and/or staff to provide for social distancing on vehicles.
  • Consider the use of cloth face coverings for riders and staff.
  • Review cleaning and disinfecting protocols for vehicles and determine appropriate routines.
  • Can you stagger arrival times, drop off points, or other methods to avoid high congestion?

The Department of Health guidelines for school buses, which were last revised on July 7, recommends:

  • Practice proper hygiene
    • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before getting on the bus.
    • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer again after reaching your destination.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth while on the bus.
    • Limit touching frequently touched surfaces such as hand railings, buttons, and other seats when
    • possible. If you must touch them, use hand sanitizer or wash your hands as soon as you can.
    • Clean/sanitize bus after each use.
  • Social distance
    • During travel, create as much space as possible between riders. CDC guidance for social distancing suggest 6 feet. If space is limited, encourage members of the same household to sit near one another rather than mixing households. Encourage riders to practice similar protocols as they wait in line for buses to arrive.
    • Consider wearing a cloth face covering when physical distancing may be difficult.
  • Use ventilation
    • Consider improving ventilation in the bus by opening windows or setting air to non-recirculation mode when possible.

Utah’s Planning Requirements and Recommendations for K-12 School Reopening

The Utah State Board of Education most recently updated its school reopening guidance on July 17. Gov. Gary Herbert (R) said, “We appreciate the thought, care and work that went into these requirements and recommendations. We appreciate that so many health care professionals, teachers, administrators, parents, classified workers and others devoted their energies into creating these guidelines to help keep our children and our school employees safe and healthy this coming academic year.”

On July 28, the Utah Education Association asked Herbert to delay reopening schools: “We call on Gov. Gary Herbert to lead with science and safety and declare that schools in impacted areas will open remotely this fall,” the union wrote in a letter unanimously approved by its board of directors. “We call on him to declare that local school districts should NOT return to in-person learning until COVID-19 cases decline.”

Utah does not have a statewide date for public schools to reopen—individual districts that meet the state’s requirements can set their own timelines, depending on the virus’ effect on their community. According to EdWeek, public schools in Utah traditionally start the academic year in mid- to late August, with the exact start date varying by district.

On March 13, Gov. Herbert closed schools from March 16 to March 31. On March 23, Herbert extended the closure through May 1. The governor closed schools for the rest of the academic year on April 14.

Context

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

The following tables show public education statistics in Utah, 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.

Utah public school metrics
Category Figure 50-state rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $8,810 49
Number of students (’18-’19) 676,440 28
Number of teachers (’16-17) 28,841 34
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 1,072 33
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 22.8 3
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 36.4% 47
Utah public school revenue
Category Figure 50-state rank
Total revenue $5,127,846,000 33
Percent from federal sources 8.8% 27
Percent from state sources 54.6% 19
Percent from local sources 36.6% 32

Details

District reopening plans

The plan says: “Local education agencies (LEAs) are required to develop comprehensive reopening plans that are approved by the local school board or charter school governing board in an open and public meeting and made available to the public on the local education agency’s and each schools’ websites by August 1, 2020.” The plans need to comply with state requirements.

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

Districts are responsible for choosing in-person, hybrid, or fully remote schedules depending on the coronavirus’ effect on their community and the advice of local health officials. Districts are required to offer alternative schedules (like remote options) for students and families at higher risk of severe illness. The plan also encourages local school officials to develop an online option for other not-at-risk students and families who want to opt-in.

Mask requirements

The plan says, “each individual, including an employee, student, or visitor” is required to wear a face covering on public school property, in compliance with Gov. Herbert’s July 9 executive order.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

School districts are required to develop a process to train teachers in identifying and mitigating risk in classrooms. The plan also recommends:

  • Assign seats and/or small groups to support contact tracing
  • Keep the same students and teachers or staff with each group to the greatest extent practicable
  • Maximize space between seating and desks (acknowledging that 6 feet of distance between desks is not feasible for most Utah classrooms)
  • Seat students facing forward
  • Establish separation of students through other means, such as plexiglass barriers, if practicable
  • Identify and use large spaces (auditoriums, gyms, and outdoors) to maximize distancing
  • Move nonessential furniture and equipment out of classrooms to increase distancing footprints

For specific requirements and recommendations relating to cafeterias, restrooms, assemblies, entering and exiting school buildings, recess, and special education, click here (starting on page four).

Transportation and busing requirements and restrictions

In creating their reopening plans, school districts are required to address the following mitigation tactics:

  • Implement strategies to ensure driver safety
  • Develop protocols for minimizing mixing of students from different households and regularly cleaning and disinfecting seats and other high-touch surfaces

The plan also recommends districts:

  • Assign seating to support contact tracing
  • Maximize physical distancing, acknowledging that physical distancing of 6 feet or greater is not feasible in many instances
  • Plexiglass around driver

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, as well as influencers relevant to recovering from the pandemic.

  • On July 31, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said the city’s schools would not reopen unless the city’s coronavirus infection rate remained below 3 percent.
  • On July 31, city officials in Somerville, Massachusetts, announced the city was indefinitely delaying its move to Phase Three of the state’s reopening plan. Somerville is currently the only Massachusetts city not in Phase Three.
  • On July 28, a group of unions representing poultry processing plant workers in multiple states filed suit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Plaintiffs say increased processing demands have raised safety concerns. The suit seeks to set aside a 2018 USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) waive. The waiver allows bird processing line speed to rise to a level the unions argue “could increase risk of injuries and illnesses among establishment employees.” According to the unions, though FSIS adopted a rule in 2014 capping the processing speed of poultry plants to 140 birds per minute, 2018 waiver they are challenging  “now permits nearly 43 percent of all plants subject to that regulation to operate at 175 [birds per minute].” The unions also allege FSIS adopted the waiver program in violation of notice-and-comment procedures required by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). A representative for the USDA declined to discuss the lawsuit, telling reporters the agency does not comment on pending litigation.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: July 31, 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 72 hours

What is changing in the next 72 hours?

August 1

  • Massachusetts (divided government): Starting Aug. 1, most travelers and returning residents must fill out a travel form and self-quarantine for 14 days upon entering the state or produce a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival. Travelers from states classified as lower-risk, which includes Connecticut, Vermont, and Hawaii, among others, are exempt from the test or quarantine requirements.
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced Umatilla County will move from Phase 2 back to the baseline stay-at-home phase of the state’s reopening plan, effective Aug. 1. Morrow County will move from Phase 2 back to Phase 1. Brown also said she removed Lincoln and Union counties from the state’s watchlist and added Hood River, Marion, and Multnomah.
  • Wisconsin (divided government): Effective Aug. 1, everyone in Wisconsin over the age of five will be required to wear a mask in indoor public settings.
  • Vermont (divided government): Effective Aug. 1, everyone in Vermont over the age of two will be required to wear a mask in public.

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.

  • Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Ned Lamont (D) said school districts would be able to choose between a fully in-person and hybrid plan without requiring state approval. Districts that want to use a fully remote model must apply for an exemption from the state Department of Education.
  • Hawaii (Democratic trifecta): The State Board of Education voted to delay the start of the public school year until Aug. 17. Oahu Mayor Kirk Caldwell issued an executive order closing bars in the county, effective immediately.
  • Iowa (Republican trifecta): Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) set requirements for public schools to seek a state waiver allowing them to provide online-only education. A school must have at least a 15% positive test rate in its county and a 10% absentee rate among students. Schools in counties with a 20% or higher positive test rate do not need to meet the absentee rate requirement. The waiver would allow a school to operate fully online for two weeks before re-applying for the waiver.
  • Maine (Democratic trifecta): The Maine Department of Education released guidance for reopening public schools for the 2020-2021 school year. The guidance requires all staff and students age five and older to wear masks.
  • Michigan (divided government): On July 29, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an executive order that takes effect on July 31. The order places restrictions on several counties in northern Michigan, including capping indoor gatherings at 10 people and closing bars that derive more than 70% of their revenue from the sale of alcohol.
  • New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): Secretary of Health Kathyleen Kunkel extended the state’s stay-at-home order through Aug. 28.
  • Oklahoma (Republican trifecta): Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) announced on July 30 that he directed the State Health Department and the Department of Education to work together to develop a plan to test teachers for COVID-19 on a monthly basis.
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): The Ohio Liquor Control Commission adopted a rule first proposed by Gov. Mike DeWine (R) that bans the sale of liquor in all Ohio establishments after 10 p.m. The restriction goes into effect July 31.
  • South Carolina (Republican trifecta): State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced masks will be required in South Carolina public school facilities for staff and students in grades 2-12.

Tracking industries: Bars

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 go out for a drink?

We last looked at bars in the July 24th edition of the newsletter. Since then, Washington began allowing outdoor seating at bars in certain regions. In Hawaii, bars closed in the only county where they were previously allowed to reopen. In Kentucky, bars went from being allowed to operate at 50% capacity to closed.

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

Return to Learn Oklahoma

The Oklahoma State Department of Education released its school reopening guidance on June 3. Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said, “It is not necessary to act on every consideration in this comprehensive framework. Rather, in keeping with the guidance we have received from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Oklahoma health officials, districts should take a layered approach to COVID-19 mitigation, adopting those policies and practices that are feasible, practical and acceptable within their school community.”

Oklahoma does not have an official date for public schools to reopen—individual districts can set their own timelines, depending on the virus’ effect on their community. According to EdWeek, public schools in Oklahoma traditionally start the academic year in mid-August, with the exact start date varying by district.

On March 16, the Oklahoma Department of Education closed schools from March 17 to April 6. The Department closed schools for the remainder of the school year on March 25.

Context

Oklahoma 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 Oklahoma, 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.

Oklahoma public school metrics
Category Figure 50-state rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $8,977 48
Number of students (’18-’19) 698,800 26
Number of teachers (’16-17) 41,090 28
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 1,807 22
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 16.5 16
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 62.5% 6
Oklahoma public school revenue
Category Figure 50-state rank
Total revenue $6,261,170,000 30
Percent from federal sources 11.5% 11
Percent from state sources 49.4% 24
Percent from local sources 39.2% 28

Details

District reopening plans

School districts are encouraged to assemble a planning team to consider the recommendations put forth in the Return to Learn plan. Additionally, the document says districts should develop contingency plans in case schools need to close short-term or long-term and learning needs to be moved online.

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

The plan says school districts should plan to conduct most of the academic year on a traditional, in-person schedule. It also allows schools to conduct operations fully or partially online and encourages schools to develop online and hybrid options in case their community experiences a resurgence in coronavirus cases.

Mask requirements

The Department of Education allows school districts to develop their own policies on masks and other personal protective equipment. The plan notes that schools should encourage mask use when possible and says face coverings are especially recommended when social distancing cannot be practiced.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

The plan suggests school districts consider the following precautions to mitigate the spread of coronavirus and prepare for possible disruptions:

  • Adopt policies for screening staff, students and visitors prior to entry
  • Adopt policies for social distancing and gatherings
  • Develop a plan in the event that a positive case, or suspected case, is identified in the school
  • Create a tiered response for potential school closures
  • Promote a culture of good hygiene practices
  • Evaluate school cleaning practices
  • Review policies regarding school building use for non-school functions
  • Work with facilities manager to mitigate viral spread through ventilation systems
  • Adopt alternate school calendars
  • Consider staggering the days students are in school buildings
  • Adopt policies for virtual instruction
  • Consider adjusting routines to allow for social distancing in common areas
  • Consider reorganizing classrooms to maximize social distancing
  • Adjust attendance policies

For more information on each of the above points, click here (starting on page 11).

Transportation and busing requirements and restrictions

Oklahoma’s school reopening plan recommends districts implement social distancing to the greatest extent possible, stagger schedules, and refer to CDC guidance. The plan also encourages districts to:

  • Inspect buses that have not been thoroughly inspected since last fall.
  • Prior to transporting students, clean any school bus used for food distribution.
  • Require school bus drivers to attend in-service training before transporting students to ensure they understand new policies and procedures and how to effectively clean their buses.
  • Include cleaning of high-use areas – including steering wheel, handles and seat backs – in pre- and post-trip inspections.
  • Revise bus rider policies to reflect new district bus safety measures, which may include temperature checks before allowing a child to board, requiring passengers to wear a mask, marking seats off with tape to avoid children sitting too close to each other, etc.
  • Give transportation managers additional time to assign/reassign buses if social distancing requires using more buses in an effort to transport fewer students per bus.
  • Ensure transportation of students with disabilities or accommodations is in accordance with current Individualized Education Programs (IEP) and district policy.
  • Consider using a monitor (teacher’s aide or other staff) to ensure students practice social distancing.
  • Install a clear protective barrier behind or alongside the driver in accordance with applicable safety code.
  • Be mindful that transportation issues will change based on the evolving nature of the pandemic.

South Carolina’s AccelerateED Task Force recommendations

Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman’s AcceleratED task force released recommendations for reopening schools on June 22. School districts are responsible for creating reopening plans based on these recommendations and in consultation with local public health officials.

On March 15, Gov. Henry McMaster (R) closed schools statewide for two weeks. On March 24, McMaster extended the closure through April 30. The closure was made permanent for the rest of the school year on April 22.

South Carolina does not have a statewide date for public schools to reopen. According to EdWeek, public schools in South Carolina may start no earlier than the third Monday in August (Aug. 17 this year), with the exact date varying by district.

Context

South Carolina is a Republican trifecta. The governor is a Republican, and Republicans hold majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. The state has been a Republican trifecta since 2003.

The following tables show public education statistics in South Carolina, 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.

South Carolina public school metrics
Category Figure 50-state rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $12,605 30
Number of students (’18-’19) 780,804 23
Number of teachers (’16-17) 50,789 22
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 1,270 29
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 14.8 27
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 67.0% 3
South Carolina public school revenue
Category Figure 50-state rank
Total revenue $8,891,519,000 25
Percent from federal sources 9.6% 20
Percent from state sources 47.2% 26
Percent from local sources 43.2% 22

Details

District reopening plans

Districts are responsible for developing their own specific reopening plans in accordance with the AcceleratED recommendations and in consultation with local public health officials.

The Department of Education (DOE) must approve all district plans. Those plans are posted publicly on the DOE website.

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

On July 14, McMaster said he would require all district plans to give parents the option to send students to school five days a week in addition to a virtual education option. McMaster instructed Spearman’s department not to approve plans that do not provide both options.

A spokesman for Spearman said she disagreed with McMaster’s requirement for the in-person education option. “School leaders, in consultation with public health experts, are best positioned to determine how in-person operations should be carried out to fit the needs of their local communities. I remain committed to supporting them in this endeavor and will only approve those plans that offer high quality options and keep safety as their top priority,” she said.

On July 27, Spearman approved the first six district reopening plans. Four of them included a five-day in-person learning option for at least some students.

Mask requirements

The task force recommendations defer to districts on mask requirements.

Recommendations for the use of masks and other PPE should be determined by districts in accordance with the latest guidance from DHEC and/or the CDC. The latest DHEC guidance is attached to this report as Appendix B, but districts should review the most recent guidance released closer to the start of school.

On July 31, Spearman announced that all staff and students in grades 2-12 would be required to wear masks in public school facilities.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

The task force recommended that schools consider the following when offering a fully in-person learning option:

  • Staggered class dismissal to prevent all students in the hallways simultaneously;
  • Redesigning student arrival in the morning to prevent congregations of large groups. This may include a necessity for students to report directly to classrooms rather than meeting in common spaces;
  • Scheduling restroom breaks;
  • If possible, schools should consider scheduling “cohorts” of students with common courses so teachers, rather than students, rotate between classes;
  • As long as health guidelines recommend maintaining distance between individuals, schools should seek to minimize or eliminate large group gatherings such as assemblies, pep rallies, spirit nights, or other similar activities; and
  • In addition to focusing on transitions within a school, districts should seek to minimize student transitions beyond the school during the instructional day. This will require a careful review of field studies and other activities requiring student travel. This includes developing procedures to allow high school students opportunities to safely engage in career center opportunities if available. Whenever possible, schools should seek to use virtual activities and experiences to reduce the necessity for students to travel off campus during the school day. Schools should also make sure to provide an equal level of access to off-campus opportunities for curricular activities as is provided for co-curricular activities.

The task force also issued the following recommendation for high schools:

When possible, high schools should seek to provide upperclassmen with late arrival or early dismissal in place of study hall periods. Schools should still place priority on building full student schedules for students that do not have the 24 credits required to graduate and for students requiring additional course work to achieve CTE completer status. However, for students that have met these requirements, schools should seek to either provide late arrival or early dismissal when possible. For students desiring to take courses beyond the 24 credits required for graduation, schools should consider VirtualSC when it provides a desired course. However, this recommendation should not be construed as a reason to reduce student access to taking multiple years and credits of an academic program such as performing arts, CTE, etc.

Transportation and busing requirements and restrictions

On July 27, Spearman issued an order requiring students and staff on state-owned school buses to wear masks at all times. She said buses will be able to operate at 67% capacity with the mask mandate.

Initial task force recommendations mentioned guidelines from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control that set a 50% capacity limit for school buses.

Reactions

  • SC for Ed, a teacher’s union, issued a statement in support of Spearman and in opposition to McMaster’s in-person option requirement. “We ask that all educators contact Superintendent Spearman to encourage her to continue to allow districts to use DHEC guidance to make plans that prioritize student and staff safety, and to contact their local school boards, and their elected representatives in the legislature to demand that districts be allowed the flexibility to temporarily eliminate face-to-face instruction until disease activity in the school area is within safe parameters as defined by the DHEC.”

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, as well as influencers relevant to recovering from the pandemic.

  • On July 28, Judge Andrew L. Carter, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed a lawsuit seeking to block the resumption of in-person criminal proceedings in New York City. Such proceedings were suspended in March as a COVID-19 safety precaution. In their complaint, the plaintiffs argued that the Office of Court Administration’s actions “endanger the lives of thousands of New Yorkers by perpetuating the spread of this virus and burden the constitutional rights to access the courts.” The plaintiffs also argued that the reinstatement of in-person criminal proceedings violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Carter disagreed, writing that the plaintiff’s request would require an impermissible “intrusion into state court operations and proceedings,” which would disrupt “[t]he special delicacy of the adjustment to be preserved between federal equitable power and state administration of its own law.” In response to the ruling, a representative for the Office of Court Administration said: “We are pleased with Judge Carter’s decision allowing us to continue deliberate, measured and careful resumption of in-person appearances.” The plaintiffs said: “[We] are enormously disappointed that the federal court relied on a technicality to allow the Office of Court Administration” to place New Yorkers in “unnecessary risk during a pandemic.” Carter was appointed to the court by Barack Obama (D).


Coronavirus Weekly Update: July 30th, 2020

The Coronavirus Weekly Update summarizes major changes due to the coronavirus pandemic in politics, government, and elections. Today, you will find updates on the following topics, with comparisons to our previous edition released on July 23:

  • Stay-at-home orders
  • Federal responses
  • Lawsuits about state actions and policies
  • Election changes
  • Ballot measure changes
  • School closures and reopenings
  • Travel restrictions
  • State legislation
  • State legislative sessions
  • State courts
  • Eviction and foreclosure policies
  • Diagnosed or quarantined public officials


For daily news on state reopening plans and which industries and activities are permitted across the country, subscribe to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery.

State stay-at-home orders

Read more: States with lockdown and stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

As of July 30, stay-at-home orders have ended in 41 states. Nineteen of those states have Republican governors and 22 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state supreme court invalidated the stay-at-home order). Seven states never issued stay-at-home orders.

California and New Mexico, both of which have a Democratic governor, are the only remaining states with an active stay-at-home order.

Details:

  • New Mexico – The state’s stay-at-home is scheduled to expire at 11:59 p.m. MT on July 30. We will provide an update if the order is extended in a future edition.

Read more: 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

The United States held midterm elections as scheduled during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic. More than 50 million people perished from the disease worldwide, including about 675,000 in the U.S., making it one of the deadliest pandemics in recorded history. Each week, we’ll look back at a story from the 1918 elections to see how America met the challenges of holding elections during a national health emergency.

On Nov. 13, The Deseret Evening News reported on an influenza outbreak at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Twenty cases of Spanish influenza were reported to exist at the Westminster college this morning by Dr. H.W. Reherd, president of that institution. However, the college is under a strict quarantine and the situation is said to be well under control.

According to Dr. Reherd, the disease made its appearance the latter part of last week but absolute obeyance of orders has halted the epidemic and it is now reported on the downward path.

When the influenza attacked the city and state over a month ago, the Westminster college had enrolled about 60 students some of whom came from a distance of hundreds of miles. Therefore, realizing the inadvisability of sending them home, Dr. Reherd communicated with Dr. T.B. Beatty, state health officer.

“We decided,” said Dr. Reherd, “that in view of the isolated location of the college, classes could be continued among the dormitory students without interference from the ‘flu’. The resident students of Salt Lake were sent home and kept in touch with the advance of the dormitory scholars by telephone.”

Click here to read the original article, courtesy of the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and Michigan Publishing’s Influenza Encyclopedia.

Federal responses

Read more: Political responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • On July 23, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar renewed the federal public health emergency originally that he issued in late January and extended in April. Public health emergencies last for 90 days.
  • A federal eviction ban created as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 expired. The ban applied to tenants in federally assisted properties.

Lawsuits about state actions and policies

Read more: Lawsuits about state actions and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 566 lawsuits, in 49 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 219 of those lawsuits.
    • Since July 23, we have added 50 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional 17 court orders and/or settlements.
  • Ballotpedia has separately followed another 146 lawsuits, in 39 states, dealing with election issues during the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 81 of those lawsuits.

Here are three lawsuits that have garnered either significant national media attention or involve major advocacy groups.

  • Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley v. Sisolak: On July 24, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a Nevada church’s request for permission to hold in-person services larger than those allowed under Gov. Steve Sisolak’s (D) executive order. The court split 5-4 in the decision. In its emergency application to the court, the church asked for an injunction pending appellate review that would bar enforcement of Directive 021. An injunction would “allow the church to host religious gatherings on the same terms as comparable secular assemblies.” At issue in the case was the church’s argument that the capacity limit violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment in that it “treats at least seven categories of secular assemblies ‘where large groups of people gather in close proximity for extended periods of time’ better than religious services.” The directive, which imposes a 50% fire-code capacity limit on places of business, such as casinos, restaurants, and movie theaters, limits gatherings at places of worship to a 50-person maximum. The majority did not comment, a common practice when acting on emergency applications. In a dissent, Justice Samuel Alito wrote the state’s argument that “allowing Calvary Chapel to admit 90 worshippers presents a greater public health risk than allowing casinos to operate at 50% capacity is hard to swallow.” Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh joined Alito’s dissent. Justice Neil Gorsuch and Kavanaugh each wrote separate dissents.
  • Graham v. Brown: On July 8, the owner of a beauty salon in Salem, Oregon filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon alleging that Gov. Kate Brown (D) and other state officials had violated her constitutional rights when they temporarily shut down her salon. In her complaint, salon owner Lindsey Graham argues that Brown’s Executive Order 20-12, which required salons to cease operations immediately and indefinitely, violated her constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. Additionally, Graham alleges that various state actors “engaged in a course of conduct intended to harass, intimidate, extort, and bully” Graham for exercising her First Amendment rights to speech and protest after challenging the logic behind, and authority to impose, COVID-19 restrictions. Neither Brown nor her office has commented publicly on the suit.
  • Yang v. Powers: On July 20, Judge William Griesbach of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin dismissed a lawsuit that sought to void local COVID-19 orders enacted in Wisconsin. Various counties and cities enacted the orders after the state supreme court overturned Gov. Tony Evers’ (D) statewide order. The lawsuit claimed six violations of constitutional rights, including the right of assembly, the exercise of religion, and equal protection. Without addressing substantive issues in the plaintiffs’ complaint, Griesbach ruled that because the lawsuit failed to allege coordinated action between the local officials, the case failed to properly join all the defendants into one lawsuit. Finding that the claims raised were “largely separate and distinct,” and that each plaintiff was subject to different orders executed in different parts of the state, Griesbach ruled that “[e]ach of the government entities are independent of each other, and the fact that various governmental officials consulted with each other before they issued local orders in response to the pandemic does not transform their independent actions into a single transaction or occurrence.” Griesbach dismissed the suit without prejudice, meaning it can be refiled. In a statement, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said, “I’m happy that this challenge to critical rules to protect public health was dismissed.” Joseph Voiland, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told news outlets he was considering whether to file an amended lawsuit or appeal the dismissal. Griesbach was appointed to the court by President George W. Bush (R).

Election changes

Read more: Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Twenty states have postponed state-level primary or special elections.
    • No states have postponed elections since July 23.
  • Nineteen states have modified their candidate filing requirements.
    • One state has made candidate filing modifications since July 23.
  • Forty states have made modifications to their voting procedures.
    • Two states have made voting procedure modifications since July 23.
  • Political parties in 19 states have made modifications to party events on a statewide basis.
    • No state parties have made modifications to party events since July 23.

Details:

  • New Hampshire: On July 28, Judge Joseph Laplante of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire reduced the number of signatures Libertarian Party candidates need to get on the ballot by 35 percent.
  • West Virginia: On July 27, Secretary of State Mac Warner (R) announced all voters “concerned about their health and safety because of COVID-19” would be eligible to vote absentee in the Nov. 3 general election.
  • Texas: On July 27, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a proclamation extending the early voting period for the Nov. 3 general election by six days. Originally scheduled to begin on Oct. 19, early voting would instead start on Oct. 13.

Ballot measure changes

Read more: Changes to ballot measure campaigns, procedures, and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • At least 19 lawsuits have been filed in 13 states seeking court orders suspending or changing signature requirements and deadlines.
  • Ballotpedia has tracked 27 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering or abandoned 2020 efforts.
    • There has been at least one new petition drive suspension since July 23.
  • Seven states and D.C. changed ballot measure procedures through executive orders or legislative action.
  • At least four initiative campaigns initially targeting 2020 reported they would shift their focus to 2022.

Details:

School closures

Read more: School closures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • In March and April, 48 states closed schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year. Those states accounted for 99.4% of the nation’s 50.6 million public school students. Montana and Wyoming did not require in-person instruction for the year. Montana schools were allowed to reopen on May 7 and Wyoming schools were allowed to reopen on May 15.
  • Seven states (Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, and Wyoming) have reopened their campuses for students and staff.
    • No new states have reopened campuses since July 23.
  • Thirteen states have released reopening guidance and also announced a scheduled reopening.
    • No new states have done so since July 23.
  • One state has announced public schools will reopen in the fall but has not released reopening guidance.
    • No new states have made reopening announcements since July 23.
  • Officials in 21 other states have released guidance for reopening schools to in-person instruction, but have not indicated when or whether they plan to do so.
    • One new state has released guidance for reopening schools since July 23.

Details:

  • Alabama – On July 29, Gov. Kay Ivey (R) modified her Safer At Home Order to require students in second grade or higher to wear masks at school. She also extended the order through Aug. 31.
  • Arizona – On July 23, Gov. Doug Ducey (R) ordered public schools to reopen for on-site learning on Aug. 17 for students who have nowhere else to go. Superintendent Kathy Hoffman clarified that the order meant each school district must open at least one site for students to go, but did not have to open every school or require every teacher to work in-person.
  • Delaware – On July 28, Gov. John Carney (D) said the state would announce its decision next week on how schools will reopen. Carney said if current statistics hold, he expects students to be learning in person at least part-time.
  • Massachusetts – On July 27, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education signed an agreement with the state’s teachers unions to reduce the length of the 2020-2021 school year from 180 days to 170 days.
  • Minnesota – On July 30, Gov. Tim Walz (D) released the Safe Learning Plan for reopening schools for the 2020-2021 school year. The plan requires a county to have fewer than 9 coronavirus cases per 10,000 residents over a 14-day period in order to fully reopen schools.
  • Nevada – On July 28, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) issued a directive ordering all K-12 students and staff to wear a mask in school at all times. The directive also imposed social distancing guidelines of three feet for preschools through middle schools, and six feet for high schools.
  • New Jersey – On July 24, the state released guidance regarding a remote-only learning option for public school students. During the 2020-2021 school year, parents will be able to opt their children into a fully online learning schedule.
  • New Mexico – On July 23, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced schools will not be able to open for in-person instruction until after Sept. 7. Individual school districts decide when classes begin, so there is no statewide reopening date.
  • Oregon – On July 28, Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced the metrics that will guide school reopening decisions. Counties must have 10 or fewer coronavirus cases per 100,000 people and a 7-day positivity rate of 5% or less for three consecutive weeks before in-person and hybrid instruction can resume. The state also must have a positivity rate of 5% or less for three consecutive weeks before any in-person or hybrid instruction can resume.
  • Tennessee – On July 28, Gov. Bill Lee (R) released guidelines for reopening schools. The recommendations cover testing and contact tracing, immunizations, and resources necessary for returning students to classrooms or teaching remotely.

Travel restrictions

Read more: Travel restrictions issued by states in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Governors or state agencies in 24 states issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 13 of those orders have been rescinded.
    • Since July 23, five states have implemented travel restrictions.

Details:

  • Kansas – On July 28, The Kansas Department of Health and Environment removed Arizona from its quarantine list. Since July 28, only people who had traveled to or from Florida were required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon entering the state.
  • Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York – On July 28, Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Illinois, Kentucky Minnesota, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico had been added to the joint travel advisory, bringing the total number of states on the list to 34.
  • Maryland – Gov. Larry Hogan (R) issued a travel advisory asking Maryland residents to refrain from traveling to Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, and Texas. The percentage of positive test results in those states is over 10%. Hogan urged people who have traveled to one of those states to get a coronavirus test.

State court changes

Read more: State court closures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
    • Since July 23, four courts have extended restrictions on in-person proceedings and the suspension of jury trials.
  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings at the local level.

Details:

  • Kentucky – On July 28, Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John D. Minton, Jr. announced that jury trials could resume on Aug. 1 and civil jury trials could resume Oct. 1. According to Justice Minton, trial judges will need to determine if conditions are safe, based on local conditions, before trials will be allowed to proceed.
  • California – On July 24, Chief judge Phyllis Hamilton announced that jury trials will not resume in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California until at least Sept. 30. In-person proceedings will be limited to 10 people.
  • Idaho – On July 27, The Idaho Supreme Court delayed the resumption of criminal jury trials until Sept. 14 and civil jury trials until Dec. 1.
  • Hawaii – Third Circuit Court Judge Robert Kim issued an order delaying all jury trials until at least Sept. 1.

Eviction and foreclosure policies

Read more: Changes to rent, mortgage, eviction, and foreclosure policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Twenty-one states have current moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
    • Since July 23, one state extended a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures.
  • Twenty-one states have ended moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • California has current local moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • Seven states did not issue a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures on the state or local level.

Details:

  • Florida – Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) extended the statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through Sept. 1.

State legislative responses

Read more: State laws in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • To date, 2,721 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
    • We have tracked 89 additional bills since July 23.
  • Of these, 377 significant bills have been enacted into law, 14 percent of the total number that has been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.
    • We have tracked 12 additional significant bills since July 23 (also omitting ceremonial resolutions and legislation

State legislative session changes

Read more: Changes to state legislative session dates in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Six state legislatures have suspended their sessions. All six of those have since reconvened.
  • Thirty-nine legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
    • One legislature has adjourned a regular or special session since July 23.
  • Five state legislatures are in regular session.

Details:

  • Connecticut – The Connecticut legislature adjourned a special session on July 27.

Officials Diagnosed with Coronavirus

Read more: Politicians, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with or quarantined due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • Federal
    • Nine members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Forty-three federal officials quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • State
    • Four state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • Sixty-five state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19
    • Seventy-four state-level incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Local
    • At least two local incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • At least 20 local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • At least 26 local incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.

Since July 23, one congressman, one congressional candidate, one state senator, and one state-level candidate for office have tested positive for coronavirus. Herman Cain died of complications related to coronavirus.

Details:

  • Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who represents Texas’ 1st Congressional District, announced he tested positive for coronavirus on July 28.
  • Wesley Hunt (R), a candidate in the race for Texas’ 7th Congressional District, announced on July 29 that he tested positive for coronavirus.
  • Florida state Senator Rob Bradley (R), who represents District 5, announced on July 28 that he tested positive for coronavirus.
  • Christopher Bowen (D), a candidate running to represent District 105 in the Connecticut House of Representatives, announced on July 28 that he tested positive for coronavirus.
  • Herman Cain, a businessman who ran in 2012 for the Republican presidential nomination, died on July 30 of complications related to coronavirus. He was hospitalized after testing positive for the virus on July 2.

Learn more



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: July 30, 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?

  • Maryland (divided government): Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced he will expand the state’s mask requirement, effective July 31 at 5 p.m. Everyone older than five will be required to wear masks in all indoor public spaces, including restaurants, churches, and gyms. Previously, masks were required in grocery stores and pharmacies and on public transit.
  • Michigan (divided government): Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an executive order on July 29 that reimposes some restrictions on several counties in northern Michigan. The restrictions, which include a 10-person limit on indoor gatherings and the closure of bars where 70% of sales come from alcohol, goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on July 31. Whitmer also issued an executive order allowing casinos in Detroit to reopen at 15% capacity on Aug. 5.
  • New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): The state’s stay-at-home is scheduled to expire at 11:59 p.m. MT on July 30. We will provide an update if the order is extended in a future edition.

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) extended her Safer At Home Order through Aug. 31. She modified the order’s existing mask mandate to extend to students at schools (second grade and older) and colleges.
  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced the state would remain in stage 4.5 of its reopening plan until at least Aug. 27.
  • Minnesota (divided government): Gov. Tim Walz (D) released the Safe Learning Plan for reopening public schools for the 2020-2021 school year. The plan requires a county to have fewer than 9 coronavirus cases per 10,000 residents over a 14 days to fully reopen schools.
  • South Carolina (Republican trifecta): Gov. Henry McMaster (R) announced the state’s guidance for restaurants will become requirements, effective Aug. 3. The order will require employees and patrons to wear masks at dining establishments, prohibit customers from gathering around bar areas, and limit dine-in to 50% occupancy. McMaster also announced that large gathering venues and events like movie theaters, festivals, auditoriums, and concerts will be able to reopen with mask requirements for attendees. Masks will be required in all state buildings starting on Aug. 5.
  • Wisconsin (divided government): Gov. Tony Evers (D) declared a public health emergency and announced a mask mandate will take effect starting on Aug. 1. Everyone five years of age and older will be required to wear a mask in all indoor public spaces.

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 23rd 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.

Iowa’s Return-to-Learn

The Iowa Department of Education (IDE) released reopening guidance on June 25. On June 29, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed Senate File 2310, which outlines educational requirements for the 2020-2021 school year. IDE released three additional guidance documents in response to Senate File 2310 in July. A list of all released guidance is available here. All schools across the state were allowed to reopen beginning July 1.

On March 15, Reynolds recommended that public schools close for four weeks, but left the decision up to individual districts. On April 2, Reynolds ordered all schools to close through April 30 before extending the closure for the rest of the school year on April 17.

Iowa does not have a statewide date for public schools to reopen. According to EdWeek, public schools in Iowa must start no later than Aug. 24, with the exact date varying by district. On July 27, Reynolds ordered that students spend at least half of their schooling in-person.

Context

Iowa is a Republican trifecta. The governor is a Republican, and Republicans hold majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. The state has been a Republican trifecta since 2017.

The following tables show public education statistics in Iowa, 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.

Iowa public school metrics
Category Figure 50-state rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $13,357 23
Number of students (’18-’19) 506,310 31
Number of teachers (’16-17) 35,808 30
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 1,318 27
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 13.6 38
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 40.9% 39
Iowa public school revenue
Category Figure 50-state rank
Total revenue $6,463,514,000 29
Percent from federal sources 7.4% 37
Percent from state sources 53.5% 20
Percent from local sources 39.1% 29

Details

District reopening plans

Districts are responsible for creating their own reopening plans using a combination of IDE guidance, Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) guidance, and gubernatorial directives. The guidance does not specify whether districts must submit plans for approval or post the plans publicly.

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

Based on Reynolds’ July 17 order, all districts and accredited nonpublic schools are required to educate students in-person at least half of the week. Districts and schools may apply for waivers for this requirement from IDE. Otherwise, the following circumstances can exempt districts and schools from this requirement:

  • A parent or guardian voluntarily selects the remote learning opportunity; or
  • [IDE], in consultation with [IDPH], approves of the temporary move to primarily remote learning for an entire building or district because of public health conditions; or
  • The school, in consultation with state and local public health, determines that individual students or classrooms must temporarily move to primarily remote learning; or
  • A school chooses to temporarily move to online learning because of severe weather instead of taking a snow day.

Mask requirements

The guidance recommends districts leave the decision to wear masks to individuals:

Requiring face coverings for all staff and students is not recommended. Allow the personal use of cloth face coverings by staff and students. Teach and reinforce the prevention of stigma associated with the use or non-use of facial coverings to support a respectful, inclusive, and supportive school environment.

Supplemental guidance released on June 30 says districts and individual schools can consider requiring masks.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

The guidance does not provide health recommendations or requirements to districts. In the June 30 FAQ, IDE provides the following reasoning:

Why is the Department’s guidance for reopening schools so brief? Some states have issued very long and thorough guidelines. 

Many states created guidance that joined their Return-to-Learn planning with their reopening guidance. In Iowa we have purposely kept these separate because reopening guidance is based on current recommendations from IDPH intended to supplement Return-to-Learn guidelines and may change.

Reopening guidance is meant to be high-level guidance and should be used with other guidance and resources the Department has provided for schools and districts as they develop their own reopening plans, which are more comprehensive than the reopening guidance, and include considerations to ensure ongoing workplace safety, mitigation strategies, and monitoring the health and safety of teachers, staff, students and families.

Transportation and busing requirements and restrictions

The guidance does not specify whether masks are required on buses (see mask requirements section above).

The Return-to-Learn Support Document requires cleaning buses before and after transporting students.

Reactions

  • On July 1, Iowa State Education Association President Mike Beranek said, “The Department of Ed and the Department of Health reopening guidance was so irresponsible.”
  • On July 24, teachers held a drive-by protest at the state capitol. Organizers of the protest called for “Governor Reynolds to rescind her July 17 proclamation, allowing local school leaders to determine the safest return-to-learn models for their communities; school leaders to make science-based decisions that protect the health of students and staff in their return to school; and school leaders to make educational decisions that uphold best practices for teaching and learning.”

Ohio’s Reset and Restart Education Planning Guide for Ohio Schools and Districts

On July 2, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) unveiled “Reset and Restart,” a set of guidelines and considerations for reopening school buildings. The Ohio Department of Education developed the guidelines with input from education associations, school leaders, educators, school counselors, school nurses, and union representatives. The plan is intended to “spur local-level, partnership-based discussions and decision-making that will result in locally developed Reset and Restart Education Plans.” The Department of Education also released a companion document, “Health and Safety Guidance for Ohio K-12 Schools,” that contains five guidelines for schools.

DeWine said, “Working with educators and health officials, we’ve created K-12 school guidelines – backed by science – for schools to follow when developing their reopening plans. Schools can adjust their rules to what works best for them for a safe environment and that protects students and staff.”

On March 12, DeWine announced schools would close for three weeks beginning on March 16. On March 30, DeWine extended the closures through May 1. He closed schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year on April 20.

Ohio does not have a statewide date for public schools to reopen. According to EdWeek, public schools in Ohio typically start the academic year between the middle of August and early September.

Context

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

The following tables show public education statistics in Ohio, 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.

Ohio public school metrics
Category Figure 50-state rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $14,328 20
Number of students (’18-’19) 1,694,341 8
Number of teachers (’16-17) 102,600 9
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 3,569 7
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 16.7 15
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 44.3% 35
Ohio public school revenue
Category Figure 50-state rank
Total revenue $24,516,266,000 8
Percent from federal sources 7.5% 35
Percent from state sources 45.6% 28
Percent from local sources 46.9% 19

Details

District reopening plans

Districts are encouraged to use the “Reset and Restart” framework and the companion document to develop their own reopening plans. The “Reset and Restart” guidelines are not mandatory. However, the companion document states all staff must wear masks in schools. If requested, schools must provide a written justification to a local health board if a staff member is not required to wear a mask.

“Reset and Restart” encourages schools to create a planning team to implement the state’s recommendations.

Planning teams should include school leaders, local health department officials, local school board members, educators, education support professionals, school health professionals, parents, students, community partners and local business leaders. Plans should be developed in a transparent manner that address the guidelines and considerations contained in this document but are customized to the local needs and attributes of the students, staff and community. Once complete, schools and their partners should have a firm understanding of the educational experience and return to school. Plans should be posted to school and district websites to promote awareness and shared understanding.

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

“Reset and Restart” asks districts to be flexible when deciding whether to return students to classrooms or continue the distance learning model adopted when schools first closed.

Because of continuing uncertainty and the need for flexibility, a school or district’s plan likely will need to embrace multiple approaches. While classroom learning still may enjoy a preferred position, more discussions are underway about remote learning, blended learning (combination of online and site-based) and mixed-methods learning (online, self-directed, site-based, work-based, etc.) in the context of reopening. It is important to note that students from the Ohio Association of Student Leaders indicated a blended approach was preferential for meeting the unique needs of individual students, allowing flexibility for both students and teachers (including time, space, socialization).

For classroom learning, the plan states that “Schools may consider ‘looping’ classroom teachers (a practice in which students have the same classroom teacher in a subject and/or grade level for two or more consecutive years) or co-teaching models, where practical, to maximize understanding of students’ current levels of educational attainment.”

For remote learning, the plan recommends:

Remote learning will continue to play a role in the education experiences of Ohio’s students in some manner. At a minimum, should a school find it must close due to a flare-up of COVID-19, or should a student need to be quarantined, remote learning will be an important contributor to sustaining educational opportunities. Even prior to the pandemic, many districts had made significant investments in remote learning capabilities and technology and shifted fairly smoothly to a completely online provision of educational services.

A note in the plan states that “Remote learning should be considered as an option for students and staff for the entire school year, as many families will have higher-risk health concerns and/or may not feel comfortable with in-person instruction until a vaccine is available.”

Mask requirements

Staff are required to wear masks in school buildings, according to the “Health and Safety Guidance for Ohio K-12 Schools” document, and schools are required to develop a face mask policy.

The state does not require students older than three to wear face coverings. The guidance for students states:

It is strongly recommended that students in 3rd grade and higher wear a face mask unless they are unable to do so for a health or developmental reason. Schools should work to reduce any social stigma for a student who, for medical or developmental reasons, cannot and should not wear a mask. It is anticipated that some schools will be comfortable in starting masks in kindergarten and some first grade, or some later. The majority opinion among experts appears to be that children kindergarten through 5th grade can wear masks as long as consideration is given for the age and developmental level of the child and the physical situation the child is in at that moment.

The plan states that face shields can be an appropriate alternative to masks if the shield extends below the chin.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

“Reset and Restart” recommends using square footage to determine the maximum number of staff and students who can occupy a classroom. It also recommends that other non-classroom spaces, such as auditoriums and outdoor areas, be considered alternatives for classroom instruction.

For scheduling and grouping, the plan recommends:

There may be new models of course and student scheduling and grouping as districts rethink the ways they use time and space. Districts may consider split scheduling or alternating days. Districts also may utilize space on weekends or evenings. Districts also may choose to rethink how each building is used and for which students. For example, an elementary school in one part of the district could be configured to also include some middle school students if such a configuration could help address transportation challenges.
Scheduling options that reduce the number of students in each classroom, hallways, cafeterias, locker rooms, on school transportation, etc., also are worth reviewing. Students should be grouped in ways that minimize movement between rooms and into common spaces. This might include placing students into cohorts and scheduling percentages of them on a given day and alternating the cohorts for in-school learning with work that is completed at home. (Remote work can be accomplished in electronic or paper formats to best meet unique needs of students.) Also, teachers could move from classroom to classroom rather than students. Food could be delivered and consumed in classrooms instead of students congregating in the cafeteria.

The plan recommends the following for students and staff transitioning between classrooms:

Schools should consider the possibility of teachers moving rather than large numbers of students doing so to minimize the number of interactions (consistent with promoting social distancing).

Transportation and busing requirements and restrictions

“Reset and Restart” includes the following considerations for busing and transportation:

Health and Safety Considerations for Buses: The health and safety precautions prescribed by the Ohio Department of Health and local health departments have implications for routine practices on school buses. Implementing daily health routines will require new practices and protocols. Each bus will need to be analyzed for adherence to guidelines, keeping safety of students and drivers foremost. This will result in difficult decisions as to who is transported and how this works.
Logistical Considerations for Buses: A district reopening plan should address school bus logistical issues. This includes the number of buses required to provide transportation in accordance with health guidelines (including students receiving transportation to community schools, nonpublic schools and joint vocational schools). It is important that districts maintain close and frequent communication with community schools, nonpublic schools and joint vocational schools to ensure transportation arrangements are coordinated and disruptions are minimized. Districts should be proactive in obtaining ridership and schedule information for each school participating in the district’s transportation plan to determine how best to meet the transportation needs of students.

The “Health and Prevention Guidance for Ohio K-12 Schools” strongly encourages school districts to require students to wear masks on school buses.

Reactions

  • Scott DiMauro, the president of the Ohio Education Association, said, “OEA understands and respects the long-standing adherence to local control in decision-making around public education, but the state also has a critical role to play amidst an unprecedented public health crisis and a rising number of cases of COVID-19. While we appreciate the consideration given to the importance of social distancing, health checks, and sanitation protocols in the Governor’s plan, it lacks a means of enforcement, even when a county is in the highest tier of the alert system.”

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, as well as influencers relevant to recovering from the pandemic.

  • District of Columbia Public Schools announced that schools would remain fully virtual until Nov. 6. Public charter schools in the district will be allowed to operate in-person.
  • Denver Public Schools announced that schools would remain fully virtual through Oct. 16. Small groups of children deemed to be high priorities for in-person instruction can return beginning after Labor Day.
  • Miami-Dade County Public Schools announced that students would begin the year learning fully virtually, with the start of the year pushed back from Aug. 24 to Aug. 31. Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said he hoped schools could move to a hybrid model by Oct. 5.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: July 29, 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?

  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): New restrictions on weddings, funerals, restaurants, bars, and gyms will take effect on July 30. Weddings and funerals will be limited to 20% capacity (with a maximum of 30 people) and event receptions will be prohibited. In Phase 3 counties, restaurants will be limited to 50% capacity, members of the same table will have to be from the same family, and the maximum number of people at a table will decrease from 10 to five. Bars will be closed for indoor service (outdoor service will still be permitted). Gym occupancy will be reduced to 25% in Phase 3 (or five people in Phase 2). Additionally, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced on July 28 that he was prohibiting counties from advancing to the next phase of reopening indefinitely.

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.

  • Delaware (Democratic trifecta): Gov. John Carney (D) said that the state would announce its decision next week on how schools will reopen. He said that if current statistics hold, he expects students to be learning in person at least part-time.
  • Michigan (divided government): Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an executive order that allows colleges and universities to convert large spaces into instructional areas without needing approval from the Bureau of Fire Services.
  • Nevada (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) issued a directive ordering all staff and students from K-12 to wear a mask in school at all times. The directive also imposed social distancing guidelines of three feet for preschools through middle schools, and six feet for high schools.
  • North Carolina (divided government): Gov. Roy Cooper (D) issued an executive order on July 28 that prohibits restaurants, wineries, breweries, and distilleries from serving alcohol between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. The order goes into effect on July 31 at 11:00 p.m.
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): On July 28, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced that the state health department would issue an order restricting activities at fairs that start on July 31 or later. The order will prohibit carnival activities, including games and rides.
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced the metrics that will guide school reopening decisions. Counties must have 10 or fewer coronavirus cases per 100,000 people and a 7-day positivity rate of 5% or less for three consecutive weeks before in-person and hybrid instruction can resume. The state also must have a positivity rate of 5% or less for three consecutive weeks before any in-person or hybrid instruction can resume.
  • Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) extended Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan until August 28. Raimondo also announced gathering limits are reduced from 25 people to 15, effective July 29.
  • Tennessee (Republican trifecta): Gov. Bill Lee (R) released guidelines for reopening schools. The recommendations cover testing and contact tracing, immunizations, and resources necessary for returning students to classrooms or teaching remotely.
  • Wyoming (Republican trifecta): Gov. Mark Gordon (R) announced on July 29 that he was extending three public health orders passed on June 15 that deal with limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings and school reopenings. Indoor gatherings will continue to be limited to 50 people, while outdoor gatherings will continue to be limited to 250 people. The public health order that relates to school reopenings includes a modification that requires teachers and students to wear masks indoors and outdoors at school when social distancing isn’t feasible.

Tracking industries: Restaurants

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 dine in at a restaurant?

We last looked at restaurants in the July 22nd edition of the newsletter. Since then, no states have opened or closed dine-in services at restaurants. California and New Jersey remain the only two states that do not allow indoor dining at restaurants.

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

Maine’s Framework for Returning to Classroom Instruction

On Friday, July 17, Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) and the Maine Department of Education released guidance for reopening schools, titled “Framework for Returning to Classroom Instruction.” The framework consists of a series of safety measures, including six requirements for reopening schools, and a color-coded categorization system for classifying the risk of COVID-19 spread in counties. The system was designed by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to guide school administrative units (SAU) in deciding the model of instruction to adopt at the beginning of the school year.

On March 31, Mills closed schools through April 30. On April 7, Maine’s commissioner of education, Pender Makin, recommended that schools remain closed for the rest of the academic year.

In announcing the Framework, Mills said, “Decisions on how best to return to school will be made in Maine, not in D.C. Individual districts and communities who know their schools best will, based on the conditions on the ground, decide for themselves how and when to reopen.”

Maine does not have a statewide date for public schools to reopen. According to EdWeek, public schools in Maine traditionally start the academic year between the middle of August and early September. Individual districts determine the start date.

Context

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

The following tables show public education statistics in Maine, 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.

Maine public school metrics
Category Figure Rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $15,724 16
Number of students (’18-’19) 175,254 42
Number of teachers (’16-17) 14,750 41
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 599 42
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 12.0 49
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 45.5% 31
Maine public school revenue
Category Figure Rank
Total revenue $2,737,132 41
Percent from federal sources 7% 39
Percent from state sources 39.4% 42
Percent from local sources 53.6% 12

Details

District reopening plans

Maine’s guidance includes a mixture of requirements and recommendations. It includes six requirements that school administrative units must implement as a baseline to reopen.

School administrative units can decide when to start the school year and how or whether to return students to classrooms. Each school administrative unit is required to develop and maintain an Emergency Operations Plan.

The six requirements for schools are:

  • Symptom Screening at Home Before Coming to School (for all Staff and Students)
  • Physical Distancing and Facilities
  • Masks/Face Coverings
  • Hand Hygiene
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Return to School after Illness

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

The guidance includes a color-coded risk classification system that schools can use to determine which model of instruction to adopt based on the risk of COVID-19 spread in the county. The three colors are red, yellow, and green:

  • Categorization as “red” suggests that the county has a high risk of COVID-19 spread and that in-person instruction should not be conducted.
  • Categorization as “yellow” suggests that the county has an elevated risk of COVID-19 spread and that hybrid instruction models should be adopted.
  • Categorization as “green” suggests that the county has a relatively low COVID-19 risk and that in-person instruction can be adopted as long as the school can implement the 6 Requirements for Safely Opening Schools in the Fall (the requirements are listed directly below this green box) – although a SAU may opt for hybrid instruction if its buildings or readiness make adhering to the required Health and Safety Measures for All Schools a challenge.

Schools are not required to follow the guidelines for each color. However, schools must implement the six requirements regardless of the risk categorization of the county in which it resides.

Mask requirements

Masks are required for most students, staff, and teachers in all schools.

  • Adults, including educators and staff, are required to wear a mask/face covering.
  • Students age two and above are required to wear a mask/face covering that covers their nose and mouth.
  • Masks/face coverings must be worn by all students on the bus.
  • Face shields may be an alternative for those students with medical, behavioral, or other challenges who are unable to wear masks/face coverings. The same applies to staff with medical or other health reasons for being unable to wear face coverings. Face shields worn in place of a face covering must extend below the chin and back to the ears.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

Staff and students are required to check themselves for symptoms before coming to school.

  • Students (parents/caregivers) and staff members must conduct self-checks for symptoms prior to boarding buses or entering school buildings each day. Schools should provide information to families in their primary language to support them in conducting this check.
  • Any person showing symptoms must report their symptoms and must not be present at school.
  • Schools must provide clear and accessible directions to parents/caregivers and students for reporting symptoms and absences.

The guidance requires adults to maintain six feet of distance from other adults and students, while students are permitted to stay three feet from other students in most cases.

  • Adults must maintain 6’ of distance from others to the extent possible. Maintaining 3 ft distance is acceptable between and among students when combined with the other measures outlined in this list of safety requirements.
  • 6’ physical distancing is required for students while eating breakfast and lunch, as students will be unable to wear masks at that time.
  • A “medical isolation room” must be designated for students/staff who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms during the school day.
  • Adequate ventilation is required for classrooms, with schools having flexibility in implementation such as using properly working ventilation systems or outdoor air exchange using fans in open window or door.
  • Groups in any one area, room, or classroom must not exceed the Governor’s gathering size limits.

The guidance includes some of the following recommendations for student learning:

  • Build in learning and practice for remote learning when students are in-person so that everyone is prepared.
  • Emphasize project-based, interdisciplinary learning activities which can provide both organic formative assessment opportunities, high engagement, and efficient delivery of many skills and concepts.
  • Plan to provide equitable services (consider low-tech and no-tech options in addition to online learning; quasi-independent projects that can be completed with minimal resources at home) for each critical skill/concept/set of standards.
  • Keep equity at the forefront of decision-making around grouping.
  • Conduct needs assessments for students regarding access to technology, an adequate at home learning space, basic needs such as nutrition, to gauge their abilities and needs to access remote learning.

Transportation and busing requirements and restrictions

Students are required to apply hand sanitizer upon entering and exiting a bus. All students must wear masks while riding the bus. The guidance includes the following recommendations for transportation:

  • School bus contractors collaborate with SAUs to adopt cleaning and disinfecting protocols, referencing use of products with valid label claims against human coronavirus and product label instructions, that will be used when each run is complete for all school buses and school transportation vehicles.
  • Consider supplementing local SAU transportation protocols with the School Transportation Aligned for the Return to School (STARTS) Task Force national recommendations that are estimated to release mid-July.
  • Adopt local implementation procedures for transportation staff and students who ride the school bus to wear a cloth face covering and accommodate students with special or medical needs that may not be able to wear a cloth face covering. Follow U.S. DOT NHTSA guidance letter about school bus driver shields that is estimated to release mid-June.
  • Work with local special education and McKinney-Vento staff and student families to develop a COVID 19 transportation protocol for each special needs and homeless student.

Launch Nebraska

The Nebraska Department of Education most recently updated its school reopening guidance on July 20. It contains a phased approach to reopening schools based on four levels of risk and community spread: significant spread (red), moderate spread (orange), minimal to moderate spread (yellow), and minimal spread (green). According to the plan, “The purpose of this document is to outline protocols schools should consider given their particular level of risk as determined by their Local Health Department and/or the Department of Health and Human Services.”

Nebraska does not have an official date for public schools to reopen—individual districts can set their own timelines, depending on the virus’ effect on their community. According to EdWeek, public schools in Nebraska traditionally start the academic year in mid-August, with the exact start date varying by district.

On April 1, Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) closed K-12 schools in the state through May 31, effectively ending the school year.

Context

Nebraska 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 Nebraska, 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.

Nebraska public school metrics
Category Figure Rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $15,176 18
Number of students (’18-’19) 326,392 37
Number of teachers (’16-17) 23,611 36
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 1,081 31
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 13.7 37
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 44.7% 33
Nebraska public school revenue
Category Figure Rank
Total revenue $4,168,349,000 36
Percent from federal sources 8.2% 30
Percent from state sources 32.4% 48
Percent from local sources 59.4% 3

Details

District reopening plans

The Department of Education’s plan asks schools to coordinate with local health officials to determine their risk level, consider the corresponding guidance in the document, and create a Return to School team to create school or district-specific plans. Plan-makers should then continue to communicate with their “Local Health Department as they review and approve your plan. Finally, communicate the steps with all stakeholders including parents and family, community, and students.”

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

Nebraska’s reopening plan allows for in-person, hybrid, and fully remote learning, depending on a school district’s risk level. In the red phase, the plan says, “Schools should be closed for all in-house activities for an extended period of time,” and directs schools to move teaching to video conferencing. In the yellow and orange phases, the plan encourages schools to use a hybrid schedule to minimize on-site gathering sizes and allow for social distancing. The green phase allows schools to fully reopen for in-person instruction.

Mask requirements

Nebraska’s plan does not require masks in schools. The plan recommends that students and teachers wear masks when feasible, especially when social distancing is not possible. Districts and schools can develop their own mask policies.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

The general preparedness guidelines for schools in the green phase include:

  • School preparedness activities primarily focused around awareness and updating emergency operations plans.
  • Close and continuing communication between school and local public health leaders focused on local epidemiology and any changes in disease surveillance that would necessitate a change to “minimal to moderate spread” community spread status.
  • Evaluate whether there are students or staff at risk for severe illness and/or students or staff living with a high-risk individual and develop or refine plans for remote work and education if necessary.
  • Encourage sick students and staff to stay home and consider waiving requirements for doctor’s excuse notes.
  • Clean and disinfect work and school areas regularly (between groups of students, between school day and after school programs, etc).
  • Embed teaching of hygiene practices into regular routines.

In the yellow and orange phases, the plan suggests the following mitigation measures:

  • School preparedness and response activities shift from ongoing surveillance to a series of active mitigation measures.
  • All staff and students should wear facing coverings when feasible.
  • Schools should be prepared to immediately implement physical distancing measures that include:
    • Reducing the frequency of large gatherings,
    • Altering schedules,
    • Limiting inter-school interactions, and
    • Deploying remote learning.
  • Short-term dismissals of 2-5 days and suspension of extracurricular activities should be expected for cleaning and contact tracing purposes
  • Students and teachers at increased risk of severe illness should be prepared to implement distance teaching and learning modalities.

For more information on guidance for in-person operations, click here.

Transportation and busing requirements and restrictions

The plan says school bus operations, schedules, and seating schemes can proceed normally in the green phase of reopening. In the yellow and orange phases, the plan outlines the following guidelines:

  • Clean and disinfect transportation vehicles regularly. Children must not be present when a vehicle is being cleaned.
  • Ensure safe and correct use and storage of cleaning and disinfection products, including storing products securely away from children and adequate ventilation when staff use such products. Ensure proper and adequate ventilation after cleaning and before returning students to the area.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in the vehicle (eg. surfaces in the driver’s cockpit, hard seats, arm rests, door handles, seat belt buckles, light and air controls, doors and windows, and grab handles) prior to morning routes and prior to afternoon routes.
  • Keep doors and windows open when cleaning the vehicle and between trips to let the vehicles thoroughly air out.
  • Clean, sanitize, and disinfect equipment including items such as car seats and seat belts, wheelchairs, walkers, and adaptive equipment being transported to schools.
  • Create a policy that if an individual becomes sick during the day, they must not use group transportation to return home and must follow protocols outlined above.
  • Create a plan for getting students home safely if they are not allowed to board the vehicle.
  • If a driver becomes sick during the day, they must follow protocols for sick staff above and must not return to drive students.
  • Encourage the use of hand sanitizer before entering the bus. Where possible, hand sanitizer should be supplied on the bus.
  • Where possible, allow for six feet of physical distancing between students, and between students and the driver, while seated on vehicles if feasible (e.g., by utilizing larger vehicles with more seats, by increasing frequency of routes to reduce occupancy, one rider per seat in every other row)
  • Consider keeping windows open while the vehicle is in motion to help reduce spread of the virus by increasing air circulation, if appropriate and safe.

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, as well as influencers relevant to recovering from the pandemic.

  • Indianapolis Public Schools announced that the board was considering beginning the school year with fully remote learning and delaying in-person instruction until at least October. If approved, the proposal would also provide devices to all students in pre-K through 12th grade and a mobile hotspot for families without internet access.
  • Lincoln Public Schools in Nebraska announced that high schools will open at 50 percent capacity, with two groups of students alternating between in-person and virtual instruction based on last name. The virtual learning will take place in real-time.
  • On July 8, the owner of a beauty salon in Salem, Oregon, filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, alleging that Gov. Kate Brown (D) and other state officials and agencies had violated her constitutional rights by temporarily shutting down her salon. In her complaint, salon owner Lindsey Graham argues that Brown’s Executive Order 20-12 requiring salons like Graham’s to cease operations immediately and indefinitely violated her constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. Additionally, Graham alleges that various state actors “engaged in a course of conduct intended to harass, intimidate, extort, and bully” Graham for exercising her First Amendment rights to speech and protest after challenging the logic behind, and authority to impose, COVID-19 restrictions. Neither Brown nor her office has commented publicly on the suit.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: July 28th, 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 two days

What is changing in the next two days?

July 30

  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced new restrictions on weddings, funerals, restaurants, bars, and gyms that take effect on July 30. Weddings and funerals will be limited to 20% capacity (with a maximum of 30 people) and event receptions will be prohibited. In Phase 3 counties, restaurants will be limited to 50% capacity, members of the same table will have to be from the same family, and the maximum number of people at a table will decrease from 10 to five. Bars will be closed for indoor service (outdoor service will still be permitted). Gym occupancy will be reduced to 25% in Phase 3 (or five people in Phase 2).

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) announced the state would spend $52 million in eight counties in California’s Central Valley to fund improved isolation protocols, testing protocols, and more medical personnel.
  • Kentucky (divided government): Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced he is closing bars and limiting restaurant capacity to 25% for two weeks starting July 28. Beshear also asked schools to avoid reopening for in-person instruction until the third week of August.
  • Massachusetts (divided government): The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education signed an agreement with the state’s teachers unions to reduce the length of the 2020-2021 school year from 180 days to 170 days.
  • Mississippi (Republican trifecta): Gov. Tate Reeves (R) amended the statewide Safe Return order. The new order limits gatherings to 10 people indoors or 20 outdoors, requires bars and restaurants to stop serving alcohol between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., and only allows bars to serve alcohol to seated customers. Reeves also added six counties to the county-specific mask order.
  • Nevada (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) said the state was abandoning its phased reopening strategy in favor of what he called a “long-term system of mitigation levels that will allow our businesses and residents to have advanced notice and understanding on what direction their county could be heading based on updated criteria.”
  • Utah (Republican trifecta): On July 27, Gov. Gary Herbert (R) issued updated reopening guidelines that allow restaurants to resume self-serve buffets. Under the new guidelines, which affect restaurants in counties in the orange and yellow phases of the reopening plan, restaurants must replace serving utensils every 30 minutes and customers must use hand sanitizer whenever they enter a new food bar line. The new guidelines also require restaurants open 24 hours a day to close for cleaning and sanitizing every morning and evening.
  • Vermont (divided government): Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced on July 28 that schools will not reopen until Sept. 8. School districts will decide whether to return students to physical classrooms or offer distance learning.
  • Virginia (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Ralph Northam (D) issued an executive order placing new restrictions on businesses in the Hampton Roads area, including the cities of Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Restaurants in the Hampton Roads area will be limited to 50% capacity for indoor dining and must stop serving alcohol after 10 p.m., and gatherings will be restricted to 50 people. The restrictions take effect on July 31.

Tracking industries: 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 21st edition of the newsletter. Since then:

  • Mississippi decreased its indoor gathering size limit to 10.
  • We reclassified Utah as having no statewide indoor gathering size limit after several counties moved into the green phase of reopening, which has no limit.

The following is an overview of gathering limits by state:

  • Sixteen states have no statewide indoor gathering size limit. Thirteen of those states have Republican governors and three have Democratic governors.
    • On July 21, 15 states had no limit.
  • Fourteen states have a limit between 1 and 25. Nine of those states have Democratic governors and five of those states have Republican governors.
    • On July 21, 13 states had a limit between 1 and 25.
  • Twelve states have a limit between 26 and 50. Nine of those states have Democratic governors and three of those states have Republican governors.
    • On July 21, 14 states had a limit between 26 and 50.
  • Two states (New Jersey and Vermont) have a limit between 51 and 100. New Jersey has a Democratic governor and Vermont has a Republican governor.
    • On July 21, two 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 21, six states had limits greater than 100.

Featured school reopening plans: Kansas and Kentucky

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

Kansas’ Navigating Change

The Kansas State Department of Education released school reopening guidance on July 13. The plan contains recommendations and consideration for schools and districts. It does not discuss requirements. The document’s introduction says, “The purpose of this document is not to prescribe what schools should do, but rather what considerations and discussions should happen in schools as they plan to support their students and communities as they navigate the uncharted waters of providing a quality education during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Kansas does not have an official date for public schools to reopen—individual districts can set their own timelines. According to EdWeek, public schools in Kansas traditionally start the academic year in mid-August, with the exact start date varying by district.

On March 27, Gov. Laura Kelly (D) closed K-12 schools in the state from March 23 through May 31, effectively ending the school year.

Context

Kansas 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 2019.

The following tables show public education statistics in Kansas, 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.

Kansas public school metrics
Category Figure Rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $12,703 29
Number of students (’18-’19) 491,442 34
Number of teachers (’16-17) 36,193 29
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 1,314 28
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 13.6 38
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 48.2% 21
Kansas public school revenue
Category Figure Rank
Total revenue $6,225,153,000 31
Percent from federal sources 8.9% 26
Percent from state sources 64.3% 7
Percent from local sources 26.8% 44

Details

District reopening plans

Kansas’ school plan encourages school districts to create contingency planning task forces to develop and review district-specific reopening frameworks. The document recommends district plans include input from students, parents, teachers, and medical professionals. Districts are also encouraged to consult with local health officials to ensure compliance with local laws.

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

The plan contains recommendations for schools conducting on-site, hybrid, and remote operations. Schools and districts are encouraged to consider which method is appropriate for their communities and make changes to their schedule throughout the school year as circumstances allow.

Mask requirements

On July 20, Gov. Kelly (D) signed an executive order requiring everyone five years of age and older entering private and public schools to wear a face covering. On July 23, Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R) said local school districts and counties have the constitutional authority to opt-out of the mask order. The governor has maintained that local governing bodies cannot opt-out of the order.

The Department of Education plan encourages school districts to require students and faculty to wear face coverings whenever cohorting and social distancing measures cannot be practiced. It contained the following recommendations:

  • Best practices suggests that visitors, staff, and students should wear masks or face coverings while inside school facilities unless it inhibits the person’s ability to perform his or her job, inhibits a student’s ability to participate in the educational process or is disruptive to the educational environment.
  • Masks or face coverings are also recommended outside when social distancing is not possible.
  • Face coverings, masks and/or shields, should be required anytime social distancing and cohorting cannot be maintained. Unless otherwise required by state or county order, the requirement to wear face coverings could be waived for Pre-K – 5th/6th grade students.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

Kansas’ plan contains the following general recommendations for classrooms:

  • Practice and prepare to model proper hygiene practices, such as handwashing, using hand sanitizer and social distancing techniques, including alternatives to handshakes.
  • Post signage in classrooms, hallways and entrances to communicate how to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • Practice and prepare to model the proper wearing and disposal of personal PPE, including masks.
  • Train staff in trauma-informed practices to strengthen the trauma- informed culture for students. Prepare to communicate effectively and empathetically with students about the pandemic and about the necessary changes to school life.
  • Reduce class sizes as needed, and maintain adequate staffing levels for teaching and learning to occur in a safe and equitable manner (i.e. band, choir, physical education).
  • Social distance as possible by increasing space between students during in person instruction. Understand there may be times that it will be necessary to provide close individual contact to provide comfort, private discipline or personal instruction. When in close contact for long periods of time, staff should wear PPE, as feasible.
  • Extra furniture should be removed from the classroom to increase the space available to provide distance between students.
  • As much as possible, furnishings with fabric and other hard-to-clean coverings should be removed from the classroom.
  • Arrange student furniture to have all students face in the same direction.
  • When possible, assign seats and require students to remain seated in the classroom.
  • Utilize outdoor spaces as appropriate.
  • Prepare to accommodate students with disabilities, including students who may be nonverbal, so they are safe from harm.
  • Support equitable access to continuous instruction by ensuring that all students have the required hardware, software and connectivity to be successful.
  • Students who have underlying conditions or risk factors identified by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) should be provided with opportunities to continue learning while prioritizing their health and safety.
  • Staff members who have underlying conditions or risk factors identified by the CDC should communicate with their supervisor about appropriate protective measures and accommodations.
  • Consider delaying academic instructional activity to start school with a focus on social and emotional learning activities that includes trauma screening and supports to help students and adults deal with grief, loss, etc. Assess students’ capacity and readiness to learn and address gaps from previous year prior to focusing on academics and classroom plans. Socio-emotional supports should then be continued throughout the school year and be integrated into students’ regular learning opportunities.
  • Practice what different learning environments may look like as schools fluidly move from one learning environment to another in response to local transmission. Align school response to community response.
  • Districts may consider adopting an alternate calendar for the school year (have multiple calendars ready for several scenarios).
  • Districts might consider staggering the days students are attending (half-day rotation, one-day rotation, two-day rotation, or A/B week) and stagger students’ schedules.

For complete on-site health and safety guidelines, click here (starting on page 1002).

Transportation and busing requirements and restrictions

The Department of Education suggested the following general recommendations for transporting students in buses and other school vehicles:

  • Assigned seating for students on all routes.
  • Have individuals from the same household sit together.
  • Fill the bus seats at the back of the bus first, and then load to the front to avoid students walking past each other in the aisle. Within the scope of this process, school districts still need to be cautious about having students of various age groups sit together due to bullying and other issues.
  • Unload students from the front of the bus first to avoid students walking past each other in the aisle.
  • If the bus is not full, spread students out as much as possible.
  • When possible, open the windows while transporting students to improve air circulation.
  • Minimize loading times by prestaging students for bus transportation home.
  • Masks are recommended for all students. If masks are required by the health department and/or the local school board, a plan needs to be in place on what occurs if a student shows up to the bus without a mask.

For complete transportation guidelines, click here (starting at page 1031).

Kentucky’s Healthy At School

The Kentucky Department of Public Health (KDPH) released school reopening guidance in June. The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) released additional guidance on July 6 after releasing interim guidance on May 15. The KDE guidance says it is meant to be used as a companion to the KDPH guidance and that both should be used as guides for school districts developing their own individual school reopening plans.

On March 13, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) closed public schools from March 16 through March 30. He extended the school closure on March 20 (through April 2) and extended it again on April 2 (through May 1). On April 20, Beshear closed public schools for the remainder of the school year.

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

Context

Kentucky 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 2019.

The following tables show public education statistics in Kentucky, 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.

Kentucky public school metrics
Category Figure Rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $11,518 38
Number of students (’18-’19) 677,821 27
Number of teachers (’16-17) 42,029 27
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 1,536 23
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 16.2 17
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 58.7% 11
Kentucky public school revenue
Category Figure Rank
Total revenue $7,453,976,000 26
Percent from federal sources 11.5% 11
Percent from state sources 54.9% 18
Percent from local sources 33.6% 35

Details

District reopening plans

Districts must use state guidance to develop their own reopening plans. The guidance says state plans should evolve over time and “districts should work closely with their local health departments and other partners to ensure their policies, procedures and protocols align with the current scientific information.”

The guidance does not say if state-approved plans must be made publicly available.

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

The guidance released in June and July does not say what sort of model districts must use for learning. The initial guidance released in May asked schools to “prepare for three contingencies for the start of the school year: an early opening, a traditional opening and a late opening” based on local conditions.

KDE established four potential alternative schedules for schools to consider:

  • Rotating schedules where groups of students would attend school on alternating patterns, such as A/B days, AM/PM patterns, or alternating weeks.
  • A synchronous opt-in model where parents could choose whether their children attend school in person or virtually, with instruction delivered synchronously to students both at school and at home through live streaming.
  • A hybrid model between rotating and synchronous opt-in models where students not learning in school are learning at home in real time through live streaming.
  • A fully online model where students receive instruction at home through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous virtual learning.

Mask requirements

The guidance recommends that staff and all students in first grade or older should wear a cloth mask unless the student has a medical exemption. The following guidelines for masks are also included:

  • Masks can be lowered during classroom time if all students and staff are seated 6 feet apart and no persons are walking around inside the classroom.
  • Masks should:
    • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
    • Be secured with ties or ear loops Include multiple layers of fabric Allow for breathing without restriction
    • Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape
    • Cover both nose and mouth
  • Schools should develop a standard for masks to assure messaging or images on masks align with school dress code.
  • Schools should develop a plan for purchase/donation of cloth masks for provision to students who arrive without a mask or do not have resources to obtain a mask.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

The guidance includes the following safety expectations for schools:

  • Stagger arrival and dismissal times.
  • Increase space between students by rearranging seating to maximize space between students to be 6 feet or greater.
  • If the physical space in the school doesn’t allow for spacing students’ desks 6 feet apart, space desks as far away as possible and require masks at all times in that classroom for students and staff. All desks should be arranged so students’ seats face the same direction.
  • Reduce class sizes to allow for smaller cohorts of students to decrease potential need for contact tracing.
  • Cancel field trips, assemblies, and other large group activities to avoid mixing students in large common areas. Adhere to the Governor’scurrent guidance regarding group gatherings.
  • Limit non-essential visitors on school property.
  • Ensure students go straight from vehicles to their classrooms to avoid congregating.

Transportation and busing requirements and restrictions

The guidance says students should wear masks on the bus unless they have a medical waiver. It recommends that passengers from the same household be seated together and that staggered, arranged seating be used.

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, as well as influencers relevant to recovering from the pandemic. 

  • On July 20, Judge William Griesbach, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, dismissed a lawsuit seeking to void local COVID-19 orders enacted in Wisconsin. The local orders, which were enacted after the state supreme court overturned Gov. Tony Evers’ (D) statewide order, originated in various counties and cities across the state. The lawsuit claimed six violations of constitutional rights, including the right of assembly, the exercise of religion, and equal protection. Without addressing substantive issues presented in the plaintiffs’ complaint, Griesbach ruled that, because the lawsuit failed to allege coordinated action between the local officials, the case failed to properly join all the defendants into one lawsuit. Finding that the claims raised were “largely separate and distinct” and that each plaintiff was subject to different orders executed in different parts of the state, Griesbach ruled that “[e]ach of the government entities are independent of each other, and the fact that various governmental officials consulted with each other before they issued local orders in response to the pandemic does not transform their independent actions into a single transaction or occurrence.” Griesbach dismissed the suit without prejudice, meaning it can be refiled. In a statement, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said, “I’m happy that this challenge to critical rules to protect public health was dismissed.” Joseph Voiland, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told news outlets he was considering whether to file an amended lawsuit or appeal the dismissal. Griesbach was appointed to the court by President George W. Bush (R).
  • Regal Cinemas announced it would reopen theaters across the U.S. beginning Aug. 21, with theaters opening according to state and local ordinances. The company has 549 locations in 42 states.

 

 



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