As plans for reopening schools are finalized, it is clear that schools are unlikely to operate as they had prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of publication, the following school districts had issued plans for reopening schools in Fall 2020. These plans vary on a number of issues including, among others, the role of families in the decision-making process and the availability of different educational options for students and families.
FAIRFAX COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS (VA)
Students will be returning to schools in August, and parents have already received an enrollment letter to choose how their children will go to the school for the entire year. Parents and families must submit their choices by July 10, 2020. The first option is full-time online instruction for the year with 4 days of teacher-directed instruction and 1 day of independent learning. Elementary students will receive 2.5–3.5 hours of direct instruction, while middle and high schools would attend eight periods daily. The second option is that students can attend schools in person for at least 2 days per week and engage in independent study on days they are not in schools. If families do not submit their enrollment choice by July 10th, their students will automatically be enrolled for in-person instruction (FCPS Plan for Return to School, 2020).
WASHINGTON COUNTY SCHOOLS (TN)
Schools are opening on August 3, 2020, and the county has three options to choose from when reopening. The availability of these options will depend on the rate of positive cases and what the local health department recommends at the time of reopening. The first option is a full reopening of schools with all students and staff present. This will only be approved if health officials report a flat or declining rate of cases AND recommend a full reopening. The second option is a staggered schedule where about 25 percent of students and all staff members will be present in school at one given time. Students will be present for full instruction in schools 1 day a week and will be given the necessary technology like Chromebooks to complete independent study at home. The third option is entirely virtual, where no students are physically present in schools, but professional staff are present during regular school hours. Students will have two different learning platforms available depending on their grade level for active instruction, 5 days a week. Teachers are in their classroom and available to their students electronically during the day through multiple digital platforms. All students will be assigned an email address for the school year which will be their primary form of communication. Parents and families will be able to communicate with schools through group texts, notifications from school- and teacher-approved digital applications, and the county website (WCDE School Reopening Plan, 2020).
THE SCHOOL DISTRICT OF OSCEOLA COUNTY (FL)
Schools are opening on August 10, 2020, and parents must choose between three options on how their children will attend school by July 15, 2020. The first option is a return to in-person learning. Students will commit to following safety guidelines outlined by the district, and to following the appropriate physical distancing measures. The second option is digital learning with the student’s assigned school. Students will follow the traditional schedule at home with live and recorded sessions. Students may have the option to return to in-person instruction if a vaccine becomes available or conditions improve. The third option is enrolling with Osceola Virtual School, where students will engage in full-time independent learning online and also have the option to work during nontraditional school hours (Osceola Ready. Set. Start Smart!, 2020).
Fairfax County Public Schools. (2020). FCPS Plan for Return to School. Available: https://www.fcps.edu/return-school/reopening-schools-plan-complete-information.
The School District of Osceola County, Florida. (2020). Osceola Ready. Set. Start Smart! Available: https://www.osceolaschools.net/startsmart.
Washington County Schools. (2020). WCDE School Reopening Plan. Available: https://www.wcde.org/cms/lib/TN02209007/Centricity/Domain/419/Reopening_Plan_7_2_2020.pdf.