COVID-19

Where schools are reopening in the US

Updated October 5, 2020

According to data compiled by Education Week, most states are dealing with a wide array of approaches to kicking off the new school year. Click a state below to learn more about the state of K-12 schools reopening across the US.

Alabama

No order

Districts will make the decision on whether to open school buildings. The state board of education encourages that all schools provide, at a minimum, access to both traditional and remote learning throughout the 2020-21 school year.

Alaska

No order

Each school district will decide when and if to reopen buildings. The state departments of education and health created a framework and guidance to help districts as they decide how to provide instruction.

Arizona

No order

School districts, in conjunction with their local health departments, must consider benchmarks on new cases, diagnostic test percent positivity, and COVID-19 related hospitalizations to determine when in-person classes can begin again. Starting Aug. 17, districts are required to provide “free on-site learning opportunities” and support services for students who need access to a computer or a supervised place to be during the day, even if the school system has opted for full-time distance learning.

Arkansas

Ordered open

Education Secretary Johnny Key issued guidance Aug. 5 that requires districts to offer in-person instruction five days a week when classes resume. Districts were required to open their schools as soon as Aug. 24 and as late as Aug. 26. Decisions on whether to close a school are being made in collaboration with the Arkansas departments of health and education.

California

Partial closure

Each local district will decide when to reopen, but in order to offer any face-to-face instruction, they must abide by metrics that Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled on Aug. 28. According to the state’s new four-tiered framework, districts may allow students into school buildings only if their counties meet key local metrics on coronavirus spread for two weeks.

Colorado

No order

Reopening plans are made locally. The reopening guidance for schools put out by the state recommends that districts have a variety of plans in place in addition to in-person classes, including teaching students in small groups and through distance learning.

Connecticut

No order

Districts were asked to plan for all students to return to school for full-time, in-person instruction this fall as long as public health conditions support face-to-face teaching.

Delaware

Partial closure

On Sept. 3, Gov. John Carney formally extended Delaware’s state of emergency for another 30 days, restricting in-person gatherings. Schools have started to reopen with a mix of in-person and remote instruction, based on “minimal to moderate” viral spread among communities. The state provides free COVID-19 testing for school staff and students, but health officials said the state could not require staff be tested before returning to school. The state also released guidance for low-, medium-, and high-risk youth sports programs, requiring both facial masks and physical distancing.

District of Columbia

Full closure

The District of Columbia Public Schools will continue with distance learning for at least the first term of the 2020-21 school year, from Aug. 31 through Nov. 6, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced.

Florida

Ordered open

A state court judge on Aug. 24 issued a temporary injunction blocking a state emergency order requiring all brick-and-mortar schools to open at least five days a week by Aug. 31. However, a Florida state appeals court on Aug. 28 issued a stay of the trial court judge’s injunction, putting the state’s emergency order back in place. The appellate court is considering an expedited appeal on the merits of the dispute.

Georgia

No order

Districts will decide whether to open school buildings, open them on a limited basis as part of a staggered schedule, or use an all-remote schedule. Those decisions should be informed by whether students and/or staff have been directly exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19.

Hawaii

Partial closure

As a statewide district, Hawaii schools reopened on Aug. 17. In some areas, schools may offer a blend of in-person and remote learning, but in others, due to rising coronavirus rates, they are allowed to teach only remotely.

Idaho

No order

Schools are expected to welcome students for in-person instruction this fall, while adhering to public health guidelines and maintaining options for blended learning for students who don't return and in case of a return to full-time remote learning.

Illinois

No order

Districts can decide whether to open school buildings, following health and safety guidance from the state. However, the Illinois State Board of Education has "strongly encouraged" a return to full, in-person instruction in the fall, as long as the regions are in Phase 4 of reopening.

Indiana

No order

Districts set their own academic calendars and can make individual decisions about when or if students return to in-person classes. State health officials have created a color-coded map that indicates the level of community spread in each county, which Health Commissioner Kristina Box has said schools should use as guidance when making decisions about in-person instruction.

Iowa

Ordered open

On July 17, Gov. Reynolds, overriding local decisions, ordered every student to spend at least half of their schooling inside classrooms. Districts must also provide online classes for parents who demand it. Temporary/continuous remote learning for an entire school or district can only be requested if the COVID-19 positivity rate averages 15 percent to 20 percent countywide over the past 14 days, and 10 percent absenteeism is expected for in-person instruction.

Kansas

No order

The Kansas Board of Education voted July 22 to reject an order by Gov. Laura Kelly that would have delayed the start of school until Sept. 8. The vote put the decision on when to reopen back in the hands of local school districts.

Kentucky

No order

Gov. Andy Beshear has recommended that schools should not begin in-person classes before Sept. 28. State officials have created a color-coded framework that they recommend schools use to make decisions about in-person instruction based on community spread.

Louisiana

No order

While school districts can choose when to reopen, the state's board of education has dictated a series of standards districts must meet before they reopen.

Maine

No order

The state has approved all schools to offer in-person instruction this fall with required health and safety measures, but individual districts will make their own decisions.

Maryland

No order

The state allows districts to make plans for in-person classes, as long as they follow state and federal health recommendations.

Massachusetts

No order

Each school district and all but two charter schools have submitted their return-to-school plans to the state education department; approximately 70 percent of school systems are opting for either in-person or hybrid learning.

Michigan

No order

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in-person learning can only occur in a region that's in at least phase four of her reopening plan. The state legislature passed a measure that says districts must reconfirm their plans on how to deliver instruction every 30 days. Districts that reopen for in-person instruction must prioritize K-5 students.

Minnesota

No order

Districts can determine whether to start the school year remotely, fully in-person, or in a hybrid model based on the number of new coronavirus cases in their county. The state developed suggested thresholds for when school buildings can reopen, and districts can adjust their learning models throughout the school year if needed.

Mississippi

No order

Districts may choose to open school buildings, but they must modify schedules, restrict gatherings, and observe social distancing in accordance with state and federal recommendations.

Missouri

No order

Districts were required to open by Aug. 24, but could receive a waiver from the state's department of education to open later.

Montana

No order

The state department of education issued July guidance on four possible reopening scenarios, including for "near full capacity of attendance and operations in a traditional setting, with remote learning for students not onsite." Under this scenario, there is no limit on group sizes in schools, but social distancing should be observed, and monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19 should still take place, the guidance says.

Nebraska

No order

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts has given districts discretion to set their own reopening plans using guidance from the state’s education department. That guidance advises remote or hybrid learning plans in communities with significant or moderate spread.

Nevada

No order

Guidance from the Nevada education department says school districts and charters must develop distance learning plans "even if a district/school has sufficient space to open for full-time in-person instruction" under the second phase of the state's reopening guidelines. However, schools must also develop plans that cover in-person learning, under a directive from Gov. Steve Sisolak.

New Hampshire

No order

Local districts will decide whether they open for full-time, in-person teaching, continue with remote instruction, or employ a combination of the two as part of hybrid models.

New Jersey

No order

Districts develop their own reopening plans that must meet core health and safety standards in the state’s school-reopening guidance. While state guidance released June 26 prioritized a return to in-person classes, on Aug. 12, Gov. Phil Murphy announced an executive order that schools could open as remote-only if they cannot meet health and safety standards for live instruction. However, districts must lay out how they intend to address the health and safety challenges to move to in-person instruction.

New Mexico

Partial closure

School buildings serving grades K-5 and K-6 can open under a hybrid schedule so long as they are in counties that have demonstrated low enough rates of COVID-19 spread and the New Mexico Public Education Department has approved the school's reopening plans.

New York

No order

School districts across the state can reopen in-person in the fall, though that may be revised on a regional basis if COVID-19 infection rates increase. School systems will have to follow state guidelines, but the specifics of the plans--including whether teaching will be delivered in-person or via a hybrid model-- will be up to the districts.

North Carolina

Partial closure

Starting Oct. 5, districts will be able to open their elementary schools to full-time instruction if they choose Gov. Roy Cooper announced Sept. 17. The districts that do so must still require mask wearing, symptom screening and social distancing, but elementary schools will not be required to reduce the number of children in classrooms. For now, middle and high schools must still operate on either a hybrid or fully-remote schedule, and districts must still offer a fully-remote option for elementary families who want it.

North Dakota

No order

Gov. Doug Burgum said July 14 that school districts could reopen for in-person instruction in consultation with local health officials.

Ohio

No order

Districts will decide whether to open school buildings, but the state department of education has said that they should only do so if they can follow the state's health and safety guidance. All students attending school in person will be required to wear masks, with some medical exemptions.

Oklahoma

No order

The state has advised districts in its reopening guidance to prepare alternate school calendars for potential school closures. Individual school districts will determine when to start school this fall.

Oregon

Partial closure

The state department of education outlines state and county COVID-19 metrics that determine whether districts can open buildings part-time, full-time, or not at all. Schools in areas that have seen three weeks of positivity rates and COVID-19 caseloads below public health benchmarks can begin reopening for in-person instruction. Schools in areas that don't meet those benchmarks are barred from reopening buildings unless they receive allowances from the state. As of Sept. 10, 17 of the state's 36 districts are permitted to at least partially reopen school buildings.

Pennsylvania

No order

State guidance allows school districts to decide whether they will use in-person or remote instruction, or a mix of both.

Puerto Rico

Full closure

On Sept. 14, a new executive order from Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced required public school educators to continue with distance learning until further notice, according to an advisory from Secretary of Education Eligio Hernández Pérez.

Rhode Island

No order

Most schools have resumed classes. Districts that began the school year with hybrid or remote learning plans have until Oct. 13 to resume full in-person instruction.

South Carolina

No order

State Superintendent Molly Spearman sent a letter to the district leaders Sept. 16 urging them to prioritize a return to traditional face-to-face education "for students who need it the most," including elementary students, students with disabilities, English-language learners, and children with poor Internet service. Reported high rates of COVID-19 spread in some counties should not be used to make all operational decisions, Spearman said. At the time of her letter, most school districts in the state were engaged in hybrid or fully-remote learning.

South Dakota

No order

South Dakota's state education department issued guidance that gives discretion to local districts to set restart plans in consultation with local health officials. It recommends flexible plans that prioritize face-to-face instruction.

Tennessee

No order

Districts will decide whether to open school buildings. The state department of education's guidance also provides a framework that districts can use to assess risk and decide when it would be safe to reopen.

Texas

Ordered open

School districts must provide daily, on-campus learning, however school systems can temporarily limit on-campus instruction for the first four weeks of school and beyond that with a waiver.

Utah

No order

The Utah state board of education released a set of minimum requirements for local school districts to meet before reopening schools for in-person instruction. Districts created plans for resuming in-person learning that address schedules, hygiene and safety, monitoring schools, "containing potential outbreaks" and (if necessary) temporarily closing schools again, among other areas.

Vermont

No order

Schools reopened across the state on Sept. 8, with districts offering in-person, hybrid, and all-remote options for students. The state’s education agency and health department had recommended full-time in-person learning “as soon as practical,” especially for students in Pre-K through Grade 5. However, local districts currently make the decision on how to reopen.

Virginia

No order

Schools across the state are open in various forms, depending on public health conditions. As of Sept. 22, 68 of the state’s 132 school districts are operating in fully remote learning mode.

Washington

No order

State officials announced Aug. 6 that they recommend schools in areas with high rates of new COVID-19 cases reopen with full-time distance learning for nearly all students. Schools in areas with moderate rates of virus transmission should consider opening buildings only for elementary students, officials said, and districts in areas with low transmission should begin hybrid instruction for middle and high school students. The state's education department earlier this summer urged all schools to reopen for some in-person learning, but the persistence of new COVID-19 cases forced a more cautious set of recommendations for local decisions, Gov. Jay Inslee said.

West Virginia

Partial closure

Each Saturday, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources evaluates COVID-19 transmission rates to determine the instructional options allowed in each county. Currently, some regions of the state are not allowed to open for in-person instruction.

Wisconsin

No order

Districts decided whether to offer full in-person instruction, stick to remote learning, or go with a hybrid model. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has provided guidance as districts develop their plans based on infection rates in their area.

Wyoming

No order

The state's department of education asked each district to send a detailed plan on how they will reopen their schools.

How to cite this data