As August crawls forward, the nation’s school districts are weighing in on the unprecedented dilemma facing teachers, parents, and administrators this summer: To return to campus for the academic and social benefit of students (and the economic relief of working parents), or begin the school year with remote learning, protecting teachers’ and students’ lives and slowing the spread of the unmanaged pandemic.
Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has endorsed a return to in-person learning, several of the county’s largest school districts have decided to begin the school year with remote-learning only. Others, like New York City, have opted for “blended learning” — a combination of online classes and live instruction — while others still, like Miami-Dade County and Houston are delaying the return to campus until October, with remote-learning in the coming weeks. With the coronavirus still raging in most states in the country, below are the major school districts that will remain remote-only for the next few months.
The nation’s third-largest school district will announce on Wednesday that students will remain at home this semester, according to a report from the Chicago Sun-Times. Prior to this week, the district planned a to follow a hybrid model, with students in classes two days per week. Following pressure from the Chicago Teachers Union, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office rescinded the plan to return kids to classrooms. A source who spoke with the Sun-Times said that it would be unlikely that classes would return “at least for the first quarter,” which ends in early November.
The nation’s second-largest school district — with around 700,000 students — announced on July 13 that its schools would remain online-only in the fall. “There’s a public-health imperative to keep schools from becoming a petri dish,” said Los Angeles school superintendent Austin Beutner. Though California is providing waivers for school reopenings for counties that have less than 200 cases per 100,000 residents, Los Angeles is above that threshold.
On the same day as the Los Angeles County announcement, San Diego County announced that its 100,000-plus students would also be online-only in the fall. “Those countries that have managed to safely reopen schools have done so with declining infection rates and on-demand testing available,” the statement from July 13 said. “California has neither. The skyrocketing infection rates of the past few weeks make it clear the pandemic is not under control.” Though the daily number of new cases is down since the announcement last month, there have been no changes to the protocol.
Two days after Los Angeles and San Diego Counties announced their decisions, the superintendent of California’s fourth largest city stated that the “fall semester will begin with distance learning.” Though San Francisco intends to transition to a hybrid learning model at some point in the coming months, the city did not provide a timeline for doing so, unlike other major school districts.