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All 50 states have active declared emergencies related to the coronavirus pandemic

All 50 states are currently operating under active states of emergency related to the coronavirus pandemic, with several set to last until rescinded by the governor.
Starting in late February, governors across the country declared states of emergency as coronavirus cases climbed. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) was the first governor in the country to declare a state of emergency on February 29, and other governors soon followed. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) declared a state of emergency on March 4. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (R) declared a state of emergency on March 6. Governors continued declaring states of emergency through March and into April.
States of emergency declarations are set to expire in several states at the end of July and early August and throughout the rest of the year, while some are set to last until ended by the governor. New Mexico’s public health emergency is scheduled to expire on July 30, New Jersey’s public health emergency on August 1, Indiana’s public health emergency on August 3, and Colorado’s disaster emergency on August 5. Alabama’s and Connecticut’s are scheduled to expire on September 9, and Kansas’s is set to expire on September 15. The states of emergency declarations in Missouri and South Dakota are scheduled to last through December 30.
Generally, declaring a state of emergency allows governors to access resources unavailable to them during non-emergencies, like stockpiles of medical goods and equipment, and to waive or suspend certain rules and regulations.
According to the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), “Traditionally states have a general statute that permits the governor to declare a state of emergency for any type of emergency or natural disaster, which can be construed broadly to include disease epidemics and other public health emergencies. In the last decade, states have begun to refine their approaches to defining emergencies; a state may have one or more statutory definitions to define emergencies, including ’disaster, ‘emergency,’ and ‘public health emergency.’”
The laws surrounding emergency declarations vary by state. In at least 16 states, the emergencies declared in response to the coronavirus pandemic were set to last until rescinded by the governor. In other states, governors have renewed their emergency declarations every 15 to 30 days as required by law.


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.

 

 



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: July 27th, 2020

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): In a July 24 discussion with U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D), Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey said he expected about half of the state’s public school students to attend classes remotely in the fall.
  • Arizona (Republican trifecta): On July 24, the Arizona Department of Health Services released guidelines for gyms and fitness clubs to follow when allowed to reopen. Health Director Dr. Cara Christ said gyms were still required to remain closed until Gov. Doug Ducey (R) permits them to reopen.
  • Florida (Republican trifecta): On July 25, Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears tweeted that she would meet with breweries and bars across the state to discuss ideas for safely reopening those companies. They have been closed since June 26.
  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): Gov. Eric Holcomb’s (R) order is taking effect on July 27 requiring everyone 8 or older to wear a face mask in indoor public spaces, commercial businesses, transportation services, and in outdoor public spaces where social distancing is not possible. Students in third grade or higher, along with faculty and staff, must wear face masks in school.
  • Tennessee (Republican trifecta): On July 24, the Tennessee Board of Education reviewed waiver requests for the 2020-2021 school year in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The board denied requests from 60 districts to waive the requirement that districts offer at least two physical education classes a week for at least 60 minutes. The board granted waivers to 56 districts to eliminate duty-free lunch breaks for teachers in districts where students will use classrooms for lunch rather than cafeterias. The board also denied waivers seeking to increase the state’s maximum class size.
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): Gov. Jim Justice (R) issued an order allowing all public and private colleges and universities to reopen, effective July 24. The order allows schools to choose their own reopening dates.

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 20th edition of the newsletter. Since then, a mask mandate took effect in Indiana on July 27.

Featured school reopening plans: Arkansas and Illinois

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

Arkansas’ Ready for Learning

The Arkansas Department of Education released public school reopening guidance on June 5. According to the Arkansas Division of Elementary & Secondary Education (ADESE) guidance website, “with state support, districts will be able to create systems that adhere to components of Arkansas’s model.”

On March 15, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) ordered public schools to close from March 17 through March 27. Hutchinson extended the closure through April 17 on March 27 and closed schools for the remainder of the school year on April 6.

Public schools in Arkansas were initially set to reopen for the school year on Aug. 13. On July 9, Hutchinson delayed the start date until Aug. 24.

Context

Arkansas 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 2015.

The following tables show public education statistics in Arkansas, 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.

Arkansas public school metrics
Category Figure Rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $11,395 39
Number of students (’18-’19) 491,804 33
Number of teachers (’16-17) 35,730 31
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 1,080 32
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 13.0 41
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 63.6% 4
Arkansas public school revenue
Category Figure Rank
Total revenue $5,283,244,000 32
Percent from federal sources 11.5% 11
Percent from state sources 51.5% 22
Percent from local sources 37.0% 30

Details

District reopening plans

Districts were required to submit plans for approval by ADESE before June 26. On or before Sept. 1, districts will post their plans to district websites. Each plan is required to:

  • Ensure the continuity of teaching and learning by providing a guaranteed and viable curriculum that includes blended learning (K-12) and diagnostic assessments (K-8);
  • Identify how they will address unfinished learning from the prior year by using the Arkansas Playbook: Addressing Unfinished Learning or district developed resources;
  • Utilize a Learning Management System;
  • Schedule teacher training for how to use the LMS;
  • Schedule teacher training for blended learning (delivery of instruction);
  • Use effective technology for parents and students; and
  • Provide a written communication plan for interacting with parents, students, and the community regarding day-to-day expectations.

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

Each district is required to offer what is referred to as Blended Learning and a remote learning option. Blended Learning is a traditional school day with on-site instruction that can transition to virtual learning in the event of a school closure. Remote learning is a fully virtual option with district teachers facilitating learning. Parents can decide between the two options.

According to the guidance, “funding through the state portion of the CARES Act will provide a full K-12 digital curriculum aligned to Arkansas Academic Standards to all students statewide in all public and non-public schools through a digital platform provided by the approved digital provider. Districts may choose to utilize the content on the digital provider’s platform or the content from any licensed platform already used by the district.”

Mask requirements

The guidance requires schools to follow the Arkansas Department of Health’s Face Coverings Directive issued July 18. It summarizes that directive’s effect on schools as follows:

With some exceptions, the Directive requires every person 10 years of age and older to wear a face covering completely over the mouth and nose in both indoor environments and outdoor settings when distancing of six feet or more cannot be assured. Although not required by the directive, face coverings are highly recommended for younger children. However, under no circumstance should a mask be placed on a child younger than 2 years of age.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

The guidance requires each district to consider the following daily school operations when creating a reopening plan:

  • Review facilities to determine how modifications can be made to accommodate as much physical distancing as possible, including repurposing unused spaces or modifying existing spaces to allow for maximum distancing of students/staff.
  • Suspend assemblies and other large group gatherings until ADH guidance allows for these types of gatherings.
  • Schedule restroom breaks to avoid congregating. Create a schedule to ensure disinfecting of frequently touched areas such as light switches, faucet levers, paper towel dispensers, and flush levers.
  • Consider suspending the use of water fountains and plan for alternative hydration stations (e .g . bottled water, disposable water cups/cones, bottle filling stations) if feasible.
  • Establish drop-off and pickup to limit close contact between parents and staff members
  • Limit group activities and interaction between classes. Stagger class dismissals in middle and high schools.
  • Consider rotating teachers rather than students.
  • Determine how to prohibit congregation in hallways and cafeterias.
  • Post signage at entrances and throughout buildings with the latest health guidance.
  • Review teacher and student schedules.
  • Consider alternatives for holding areas for large groups of students before and after school.
  • Re-Entry Guidance document will be updated as information becomes available.
  • Ability to quickly move between different modes of instructional delivery.

Transportation and busing requirements and restrictions

The guidance provides the following requirements and recommendations for transportation:

  • Drivers must wear a face covering or mask (including cloth face covering) at all times. Districts may need to make special accommodations on mask type for drivers as needed.
  • Students should utilize district-provided hand sanitizer at the service door of each bus in the morning and before they enter the bus each afternoon.
  • Adding additional bus stops is recommended to reduce the number of students being picked up at one place.
  • Students should maintain a distance of 6 feet apart while waiting on the bus to arrive.

Illinois’ Starting the 2020-21 School Year

The Illinois State Board of Education released its school reopening guidance on June 23. The plan’s introduction says, “No amount of technology can replicate the effect of face-to-face interactions and instruction between teachers and students. This Part Three document endeavors to guide schools and districts in transitioning back to in-person learning, while holding paramount the health and safety of students and communities.”

Illinois does not have an official date for public schools to reopen, but schools have been allowed to reopen in-person operations since the state entered Phase 3 of its economic and social reopening plan on May 29. According to EdWeek, public schools in Illinois traditionally start the academic year between mid-August and early September, with the exact start date varying by district.

On March 13, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) closed public schools through the end of March. The closure was extended on March 20 and again on March 31. Pritzker ended the public school year on April 9.

Context

Illinois is a Democratic trifecta. The governor is a Democrat, and Democrats hold majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. The state became a Democratic trifecta in 2019.

The following tables show public education statistics in Illinois, 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.

Illinois public school metrics
Category Figure Rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $17,066 10
Number of students (’18-’19) 1,966,209 5
Number of teachers (’16-17) 128,893 5
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 4,345 4
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 15.0 24
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 50.2% 20
Illinois public school revenue
Category Figure Rank
Total revenue $27,304,004,000 6
Percent from federal sources 8.3% 29
Percent from state sources 24.9% 50
Percent from local sources 66.8% 1

Details

District reopening plans

School districts are required to develop and publicly post a Remote Learning Days and Blended Remote Learning Day Plan, which the district superintendent must approve. The plans must address the following:

  1. Accessibility of the remote instruction to all students enrolled in the district;
  2. When applicable, a requirement that the Remote Learning Day and Blended Remote Learning Day activities reflect the Illinois Learning Standards;
  3. Means for students to confer with an educator, as necessary;
  4. The unique needs of students in special populations, including, but not limited to, students eligible for special education under Article 14; students who are English Learners, as defined in Section 14C-2; students experiencing homelessness under the Education for Homeless Children Act [105 ILCS 45]; or vulnerable student populations;
  5. How the district will take attendance and monitor and verify each student’s remote participation; and
  6. Transitions from remote learning to on-site learning upon the State Superintendent’s declaration that Remote Learning Days and Blended Remote Learning Days are no longer deemed necessary.

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

In-person operations at schools are encouraged to resume in Phase 4 regions with precautions to allow for social distancing. Schools and districts are allowed to use hybrid schedules and online integration as necessary. According to the plan, “Data and feedback should be analyzed through an equity lens to determine what student groups may need greater supports to meet high standards in a Remote or Blended Remote Learning environment.”

Mask requirements

All individuals older than the age of two who can safely do so must wear a mask in public and nonpublic school buildings. According to the plan, “Face coverings must be worn at all times in school buildings even when social distancing is maintained. Face coverings do not need to be worn outside if social distance is maintained. It is recommended that schools require physicians notes for students and staff who are not able to wear a face covering due to trouble breathing. It is recommended that schools and districts update policies to require the wearing a face covering while on school grounds and handle violations in the same manner as other policy violations.”

In-person health recommendations and requirements

In-person instruction was permitted in Phase 3 and the state encourages it in Phase 4, in compliance with the following requirements for public and private schools:

  • Require use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including face coverings;
  • Prohibit more than 50 individuals from gathering in one space;
  • Require social distancing be observed, as much as possible;
  • Require that schools conduct symptom screenings and temperature checks or require that individuals self-certify that they are free of symptoms before entering school buildings; and
  • Require an increase in schoolwide cleaning and disinfection.

For more information on health protocols, click here (page 30).

Transportation and busing requirements and restrictions

Illinois’ plan contains the following requirements for student transportation:

  • All individuals on a bus or van must wear a face covering.
  • No more than 50 people are allowed on a bus in Phase 4.
  • Drivers and students must undergo symptom and temperature checks before boarding.

Illinois’ plan also says buses should be disinfected at least daily. It also recommends districts implement visual guides (such as tape or decals specifying where students can and cannot sit) and assigned seating charts.

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 24, Anchorage School District Superintendent Deena Bishop announced that the school district would begin the year under its high-risk scenario for school operations, meaning students would start the year with virtual learning.
  • 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 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.

 

 



New York Assemblymember Gantt dies

New York State Assemblymember David Gantt (D) died on July 1 after serving in the legislature for close to thirty years. Gantt was first elected to represent District 133 in the New York State Assembly in 1983. He was elected to represent District 137 in 2013 and held that office until his death.
Vacancies in the New York state legislature are filled by special election. This year four special elections were called in the state legislature—three in the assembly and one in the state senate. All four were originally scheduled for April 28. On March 28, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) postponed the four state legislative special elections, along with New York’s presidential preference primary and one Congressional special election, to June 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The state legislative special elections were subsequently canceled.
Gantt’s death creates the fourth current vacancy in the chamber. The partisan composition of the chamber is 103 Democrats, 42 Republicans, and one member of the Independence Party of America. All 150 seats are up for election this year.


Texas Democrats appeal absentee voting decision to U.S. Supreme Court

On June 16, the Democratic Party of Texas appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court an appellate court order staying a district court decision that had extended absentee voting eligibility in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

On May 19, Judge Samuel Frederick Biery of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas ordered that all eligible Texas voters be allowed to cast absentee ballots in order to avoid transmission of the coronavirus. The state appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. On June 4, a three-judge panel of the appeals court stayed the district court decision, allowing election officials to enforce state laws limiting absentee voting to those meeting specified eligibility criteria.

In its appeal to the Supreme Court, the plaintiffs presented the following question: “Does Texas’s limitation of the right to cast a no-excuse mail-in ballot to only voters who are ’65 years of age or older on election day,’ Tex. Election Code § 82.003, violate the Twenty-Sixth Amendment’s directive that the right to vote ‘shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age’?”



U.S. extends travel restrictions on Canada and Mexico through July 21

On June 16, 2020, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced the U.S. would extend travel restrictions in place at the Canadian and Mexican borders through July 21.

The restrictions, initially put into place in late March in coordination with both countries, close the borders to nonessential travel. Essential travel, including for trade and commerce, is still allowed, but traveling for tourism or recreation is prohibited. The restrictions were extended on April 20 and May 19.

In addition to travel restrictions placed on foreign countries by the federal government, Ballotpedia is tracking restrictions placed on out-of-state travelers by governors and state agencies.



U.S. Representative Tom Rice tests positive for coronavirus

On June 15, Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.) announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. In a Facebook post, he said his wife and son also tested positive for the virus.
Rice has represented South Carolina’s 7th Congressional District since 2013.
Ballotpedia tracks politicians and government officials who have been diagnosed or tested for coronavirus, or become quarantined.
Rice is the sixth member of the U.S. House to test positive for the virus. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is the only senator known to have tested positive.
On March 30, Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) announced that she had been diagnosed with presumed coronavirus by her attending physician, although she was not tested.


New Hampshire’s stay-at-home order to expire on June 15

On June 11, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced that New Hampshire’s stay-at-home order will expire on June 15 at 11:59 p.m.

When the order lifts, the following businesses are permitted to reopen: amateur sports, bowling, arcades, laser tag and billiard halls, charitable gaming, gyms and fitness centers (50% capacity), libraries, motorcycle rides, museums and art galleries, outdoor attractions, outdoor race tracks, public, campground and commercial pools, road races, and tourist trains.

Low physical contact amateur sports, such as baseball and softball, are allowed to resume, and indoor recreational facilities can reopen at 50% capacity. Funeral homes may reopen and weddings may resume.

In-restaurant dining capacity can rise if there’s enough floor space to maintain social distancing in six counties—Belknap, Coos, Carrol, Cheshire, Sullivan, and Grafton. In-restaurant dining can resume at 50% capacity in Rockingham, Hillsborough, Merrimack and Strafford counties.

Ballotpedia is tracking how state governments plan to reopen after the coronavirus pandemic.



Hawaii governor extends travel restrictions for international and out-of-state travelers

On June 10, Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) extended the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for those traveling to Hawaii from international or out-of-state locations through the end of July. Beginning June 16, the Hawaii National Guard will check passengers’ temperatures arriving through Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. Each passenger will also need to have their travel verified and are required to sign a mandatory order for self-quarantine.

Governors or state agencies issued 21 executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors in response to the coronavirus pandemic. At least nine have been rescinded.



Utah gubernatorial candidate Jon Huntsman tests positive for coronavirus

On June 10, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman (R) announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Huntsman, who served as governor of the Beehive State between 2005 and 2009, is once again making a bid for the governor’s seat in Utah’s 2020 gubernatorial election.

Huntsman wrote in a tweet that he had experienced “classic symptoms.” He said he was initially given incorrect test results by the Salt Lake County Health Department before receiving the correct results.

Huntsman served as Ambassador to China under President Barack Obama (D) from 2009 to 2011, and as Ambassador to Russia under President Donald Trump (R) from 2017 to 2019.

He will face off against Spencer Cox, Gregory Hughes, and Thomas Wright in the Republican primary on June 30, 2020.

Ballotpedia tracks politicians and government officials who have been diagnosed or tested for coronavirus, or become quarantined.



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