In guidelines released early June, the state Education Department said in-person teaching can continue on July 1. According to the guidance, Education Secretary Pedro Rivera said pre-K through grade 12 schools and colleges in counties that reached either the “green” or “yellow” phase of the state’s Coronavirus reopening plan can resume the in-person instruction.
It is important to note that, while the state is permitting the continuance of in-person education, it is not required. Officials stated that schools can decide whether or not they wish to resume and at what levels. If they plan to open, they are required to submit their plans to the Education Department regarding their own health and safety procedures that meet federal and state guidelines. The guidelines issued also require districts to understand if a family does not want to send their child back to school at this time, even if they are opening.
While the guidelines require a number of things in their health and safety plan, it is left up to each school district to determine what learning will look like moving forward. The guidance does not mandate a certain number of children per classroom, however, it does call for six feet of separation between all students. Depending on the school, this could mean holding classes in larger spaces, staggering class schedules to limit school populations, or having some students in-person while others are online. Rivera stated that schools can “personalize those expectations based on the needs of their classrooms.”
With cases rising in other states that have previously opened, Rivera acknowledged that reopened schools may have to close again if there is a second wave of the Coronavirus later this year. However, he states, “We are planning for the best in terms of school instruction, but we are planning for the worst.”
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