New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut have cleared schools for reopening, but what that means is different for every district around the Tri-State. Here you will find links to state guidance and CDC guidelines for reopening schools.
NEW YORK CITY
New York City's reopening schools plan calls for a mix of in-person and remote learning with students taking turns in classrooms when they return in the fall, but more than a quarter of students have decided to go with the all-remote option instead. Mayor Bill de Blasio said that 74%, more than 700,000 students, will be taking part in the city's blended learning plan. 26% of students will be taking part in remote-only digital learning. He said that is consistent with the survey families took earlier this summer.
More information from the NYC Department of Education.
New York schools can reopen their doors and bring students into the classrooms for the start of the school year. Citing success in battling the coronavirus in the state that once was the U.S. heart of the pandemic, the governor's decision clears the way for schools to offer at least some days of in-person classes, alongside remote learning. Each district must submit a plan for reopening to the state.
More information from the New York State Department of Education.
New Jersey public and nonpublic pre-K through 12 schools and colleges and universities have been cleared to reopen for the upcoming academic year, Governor Murphy has announced. Schools may also opt for remote learning.
Murphy said each of the 600 school districts, public and non-public schools, must certify that they can meet the New Jersey Department of Education's health and safety standards of students and staff in order for in-person instruction to resume.
More information from the New Jersey Department of Education.
Connecticut schools can reopen for fulltime instruction so long as public health data continues to support this model, officials have announced. This model will be supported with more intensive mitigation strategies and specific monitoring, containment and class cancellation plans. Schools 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.
More information from the Connecticut Department of Education.
The CDC has issued updated reopening schools guidance urging school leaders to work with local officials to make decisions about the fall, taking into account the virus's rate of transmission in the area. It laid out a range of measures depending on the level of spread. If there's minimal or moderate spread, it recommends social distancing, masks and increased sanitation. But in areas with substantive and uncontrolled spread, it says, school closure is an "important consideration." "Plans for virtual learning should be in place in the event of a school closure," the CDC said.
KEY POINTS FROM THE CDC
COVID-19 poses relatively low risks to school-aged children
The CDC says children appear to be at lower risk for contracting COVID-19 compared to adults. According to the CDC, as of July 17, 2020, the United States reported that children and adolescents under 18 years old account for under 7 percent of COVID-19 cases and less than 0.1 percent of COVID-19-related deaths.
There have also been few reports of children being the primary source of COVID-19 transmission among family members, the CDC said in a news release on Thursday.
Extended school closure is harmful to children
According to the CDC, following the wave of school closures in March 2020 due to COVID-19, academic learning slowed for most children and stopped for some. A survey of 477 school districts by the University of Washington's Center on Reinventing Public Education found that, "far too many schools are leaving learning to chance."
The CDC also says disparities in educational outcomes caused by school closures are a particular concern for low-income and minority students and students with disabilities. "Many low-income families do not have the capacity to facilitate distance learning (e.g. limited or no computer access, limited or no internet access), and may have to rely on school-based services that support their child's academic success," the CDC said in a release.
A study by researchers at Brown and Harvard Universities assessed how 800,000 students used Zearn, an online math program, both before and after schools closed in March 2020. Data showed that through late April, student progress in math decreased by about half, with the negative impact more pronounced in low-income zip codes
Schools play a critical role in supporting the whole child, not just their academic achievement
Extended school closures are harmful to children's development of social and emotional skills, the CDC says. Important social interactions that facilitate the development of critical social and emotional skills are greatly curtailed or limited when students are not physically in school.
The health institute also states that extended closures can be harmful to children's mental health and can increase the likelihood that children engage in unhealthy behaviors.
"We know that, even outside the context of school closures, children often do not receive the mental health treatment they need. Among children ages 9-17, it is estimated that 21 percent, or more than 14 million children, experience some type of mental health condition," the CDC said in the newly-released guidance.
The CDC says it's critical that all administrators:
- Engage and encourage everyone in the school and the community to practice preventive behaviors. These are the most important actions that will support schools' safe reopening and will help them stay open.
- Implement multiple SARS-CoV-2 mitigation strategies (e.g., social distancing, cloth face coverings, hand hygiene, and use of cohorting).
- Communicate, educate, and reinforce appropriate hygiene and social distancing practices in ways that are developmentally appropriate for students, teachers, and staff.
- Integrate SARS-CoV-2 mitigation strategies into co-curricular and extracurricular activities (e.g., limiting or cancelling participation in activities where social distancing is not feasible).
- Maintain healthy environments (e.g., cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces).
- Make decisions that take into account the level of community transmission.
- Repurpose unused or underutilized school (or community) spaces to increase classroom space and facilitate social distancing, including outside spaces, where feasible;
- Develop a proactive plan for when a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19.
- Develop a plan with state and local health department to conduct case tracing in the event of a positive case.
- Educate parents and caregivers on the importance of monitoring for and responding to the symptoms of COVID-19 at home.
- Develop ongoing channels of communication with state and local health departments to stay updated on COVID-19 transmission and response in your local area.