School Climate & Safety

Reopening Schools: Here Are Some Districts’ Plans for the Fall

By Lesli A. Maxwell — July 13, 2020 5 min read
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We’re smack in the middle of July. Coronavirus cases, as of today, are rising in 39 states. Schools face intense—and divisive—pressure to say how they will provide learning this fall.

A growing number of school systems are releasing their plans with Los Angeles Unified and San Diego Unified—two of the biggest—announcing Monday that they will start 2020-21 in full remote learning.

Education Week is collecting reopening plans from districts as they are announced. Reopening plans can take many forms, but for simplicity, we have organized them into 3 main categories: remote learning only; full, in-person instruction available to all students, and hybrid (combo of remote/in-person). If your district has announced its formal plans for reopening, please send a link to the district’s announcement to

You can also browse our fuller, working list of district plans that we are updating regularly.

Here’s a sampling from across the country of how school districts will reopen.

Remote learning only

  • Los Angeles Unified: The second largest school district with just under 500,000 students will begin the school year with everyone learning remotely. Superintendent Austin Beutner said: “There’s a public health imperative to keep schools from becoming a petri dish.”
  • San Diego Unified: Superintendent Cindy Marten joined Los Angeles Unified’s Beutner in announcing her 103,000-student district’s all-remote reopening plan.
  • Metropolitan Nashville schools (Nashville, Tenn.): The 85,000-student district had originally announced plans to reopen with a hybrid plan that gave parents the choice of in-person or remote instruction, but changed course to decide it will spend at least the first month of the school year in all-remote mode. Schools start online Aug. 4, which leaders said would last at least through Labor Day. “We are prepared to return to in-person learning as soon as conditions allow,” Adrienne Battle, the district’s director of schools, wrote in a letter to the community.
  • Palm Beach County schools (Palm Beach, Fla.): The school board was unanimous in signing off on the all-remote approach to reopening for this 193,000-student district in Florida where the virus is raging. Said school board member Marcia Andrews: “We’re truly not ready. We’re not ready from a health standpoint. And we’re not ready from a planning standpoint.”
  • MSD Washington Township schools (Indianapolis, Ind.): The district reversed course from plans to reopen with some in-person instruction to an all-remote reopening after seeing rising numbers of virus cases in the state. Experts caution that students themselves may become infected and that even if they do not become seriously ill they may pass the virus to adults with whom they reside, including those who are immunocompromised or are vulnerable for other reasons,” the district said in a statement. “We acknowledge in this regard that our African American families are particularly at risk.”
  • Mesa Public Schools (Mesa, Ariz.): The district said in early July that it will reopen Aug. 4 with only remote instruction for its 63,000 students. Remote learning will continue until it is safe to provide modified or in-person instruction,” Superintendent Andi Fourlis wrote to her community.

Full, in-person instruction available for all students

  • Miami-Dade schools (Miami, Fla.): The district is giving parents of its 350,000 students a choice between full-time, online learning or in-person instruction, up to five days a week, depending on the enrollment and space limitations in each school.
  • Shelby County schools (Memphis, Tenn.): Parents in this 112,000-student district can choose between daily, in-person instruction or live, online instruction five days a week. The choice parents make will stand for the entire fall semester.
  • Cobb County schools, (Marietta, Ga.): The 111,000-student district is offering parents two choices: face-to-face instruction, five days a week or fully remote instruction. If parents opt for in-person schooling, students will be strongly urged to wear masks. This year will be like none other, and I am confident the plan to start the 2020-2021 school year is based on the needs of students and gives parents the flexibility to make the choice that is best for them,” said Superintendent Chris Ragsdale.
  • Davis Public Schools (Farmington, Utah): The 74,000-student district is planning a full reopening of in-person instruction, five days a week with remote learning options for parents who don’t feel it’s safe to send their children to school.
  • Little Rock schools (Little Rock, Ark.): Full-time, in-person schooling is available to all 23,000 students in this district, as is a fully remote option.

Hybrid plan (combination of some in-person instruction/remote learning)

  • New York City schools: The largest district with roughly 1 million students will limit classroom attendance to 1-3 days per week, with students still doing much of their learning from home. This partial reopening of buildings will continue indefinitely. Parents can opt for all-remote learning.
  • Columbus City Schools (Columbus, Ohio): In this 49,000-student district, children in grades K-8 will attend schools in person on some days, while learning from home other days. All high school students will learn remotely full time for the first two quarters of the school year. Families of K-8 students may opt for all-virtual schooling.
  • Des Moines Public Schools (Des Moines, Iowa): Parents can choose between an all-virtual learning option for the first term of the school year, which runs through Oct. 28, or a hybrid option which will provide a mix of some in-person instruction and some virtual learning. For K-8 students, the 34,000-student district has devised a schedule that has students at school two days a week, and home three days. For high school, students in each grade level will physically attend classes one day a week and learn from home the remaining four.
  • Fairfax County schools (Fairfax, Va.): Virginia’s largest district with 188,000 students is offering parents two options: full-time, online learning or a combination of some in-person instruction and remote learning.
  • Klein Independent schools (Klein, Texas): Parents in this 53,000-student district must choose between online learning and on-campus learning.
  • Scott County schools (Forest, Miss.): The 4,000-student district will open Aug. 6 (10 days later than it had planned) with partial live attendance. For the first full week of school, half of the district’s students will attend Mondays/Wednesdays, the other half on Tuesdays/Thursdays, with everyone learning from home on Fridays. The district intends for all students to attend school starting Aug. 17.

Photo: Child-care worker Paula Saavedra checks a student’s temperature last month at the entrance to the Chase Avenue School in El Cajon, Calif. --Ariana Drehsler for Education Week

Education Week intern Hannah Farrow and Librarian Holly Peele contributed research for this report.

Related Reading:

Data: When Will School Start This Fall?

The Socially Distanced School Day

Scheduling the COVID-19 School Year

Getting Kids to School: Tackling the COVID-19 Transportation Problem

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.