top of page

States Where Districts Decide



The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development released a set of broad guidelines for reopening schools, leaving districts to make decisions for themselves regarding start dates and safety measures.


The state’s Department of Education released recommendations for school districts, including mask requirements, frequent temperature checks and socially distanced desks.

Multiple school districts in Phoenix have already decided they will begin the year with distance learning, and do not anticipate starting until October.


Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) has released guidelines for school districts, ranging from enforcing physical distancing to closing down the district, but those decisions will be made at the local level.


Districts have the option to reopen in-person once their county meets public health thresholds under a July 17 order from Gov. Gavin Newson (D). Thirty-two of the state’s 58 counties, however, remain on a “watchlist” and school districts there will have to begin the year remotely. 

Los Angeles and San Diego Unified school districts already had decided to offer online-only classes to begin the school year. Schools in the counties that meet thresholds must require masks if they do reopen.


School districts in Colorado are pursuing a variety of reopening strategies, from in-person five days a week to alternating between in-person and online learning.

Denver Public Schools is planning to offer in-person classes five days a week.


Decisions in Georgia are still left to school districts. Atlanta Public Schools announced it will begin the school year with virtual instruction after a local surge of cases, and it has pushed its start date from Aug. 10 to Aug. 24 to give teachers and families more time to prepare.


Gov. Brad Little (R) and the State Board of Education have unveiled a framework for reopening schools, leaving the details up to school districts but making it clear schools are expected to reopen.


Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) has laid out guidelines for school reopenings, allowing districts to create their own plans but implementing requirements for schools choosing to reopen. 


The Indiana Department of Education has released guidelines and recommendations to school districts. Indiana’s state health commissioner said the guidelines were intentionally nonbinding to allow districts flexibility.

In Indianapolis, one district has said it will only offer online classes, while the others will offer both in-person and online options. Indianapolis Public Schools plans to start in-person classes Aug. 3.


Schools are allowed to open in-person if they choose, but decisions regarding masks, social distancing and temperature checks will be left to the districts.

Des Moines Public Schools is offering both hybrid and virtual options, while the Iowa City School District released its own guidelines for in-person learning.


The Kansas State Department of Education released a draft of its school reopening guidelines July 14, offering recommendations for three different levels of risk and plans for in-person, hybrid and virtual learning — but no mandates.

Kansas Commissioner of Education Randy Watson said most schools will probably utilize a hybrid model.


Many of the state’s larger school districts have yet to release their reopening plans. A majority of districts that have announced their plans will begin the year with a hybrid model, according to a state survey released July 14.


Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted July 14 to adopt a set of minimum standards schools must adhere to in order to reopen with in-person classes.


Maryland school systems have until mid-August to submit reopening plans to the state’s Department of Education, after Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said the state will not be “rushed into” reopening schools.

Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Darryl Williams said he is leaning toward distance learning with a phased-in return approach, while Montgomery County plans to begin the year with a virtual-only model.

Prince George’s County announced its schools will continue distance learning until Jan. 29.


School districts have to submit plans to the state by July 31 with scenarios for in-person, hybrid and remote learning and explain the safety protocols they plan to implement.


Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) released her school reopening plan at the end of June, with safety protocols contingent on what reopening phase the state is in and the status of the virus in given geographic areas.

Reopening plans, which each district is required to create, will likely look different in metropolitan Detroit, where cases are higher, than in the state’s Upper Peninsula.


The Mississippi Department of Education is offering guidelines for in-person, hybrid and virtual reopening models, and leaving the decisions up to school districts.


The Missouri Department of Education released guidelines for school reopenings but is letting districts decide for themselves.


Montana is offering policy recommendations for four reopening scenarios — fully digital, hybrid, hybrid with more students in buildings, and nearly full in-person — but left decisions regarding masks, attendance policies and lunchtime policies to school districts.


Nebraska’s Department of Education is encouraging school districts to collaborate with their local health departments when developing plans.


Nevada’s Department of Education is allowing schools to open for in-person classes, hybrid models or distance learning.

New Hampshire

Schools have the option of in-person learning, remote learning or a hybrid.

New York

The New York State Department of Education is leaving the decision of whether to pursue in-person, hybrid or distance learning up to the districts, though they must meet certain coronavirus thresholds to be permitted to offer in-person components.


North Dakota

While school districts must prepare plans for in-person, hybrid and distance learning, Gov. Doug Burgum (R) is permitting school districts to open their buildings full-time.


School districts have begun releasing reopening plans after Gov. Mike DeWine (R) issued a set of flexible guidelines.



The Oklahoma State Department of Education released a framework for schools to use when weighing reopening options, but left decisions up to the school districts.


Districts can pursue in-person, hybrid or distance learning models.


Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) school reopening guidelines allow school districts to craft their own plans, subject to the state’s Department of Education review, but limits reopening options based on the strength of outbreaks in various regions of the state.

Rhode Island

School districts are required to submit three plans — one each for in-person, hybrid and distance learning — to the Rhode Island Department of Education by July 17, at which point plans will receive feedback and be made public by July 31. School is expected to start Aug. 31.

South Dakota

Districts are to make their own individual decisions based on “scientific information” and the state of the virus in their local area, according to state guidance. Gov. Kristi Noem (R) vowed on Fox News in July that children will be returning to classrooms in the fall.


Local districts were tasked with creating their own reopening plans based on “toolkits” designed by the state. Schools are being asked to develop policies for symptom and temperature screening of students.

Nashville Public Schools announced July 9 it would start the school year with virtual instruction on Aug. 4, keeping students out of school buildings until at least Labor Day. It previously planned to reopen with a hybrid model, but reversed course amid rising cases in the state.


Virginia left decisions on reopening up to individual school boards.

Several of the state’s major districts, including Richmond and Arlington, announced plans in July to maintain fully virtual learning for the fall. Arlington reversed earlier plans for a hybrid model. The state’s largest district, Fairfax County, is offering all students a hybrid option.


Gov. Jay Inslee (D) ordered school districts in June to follow the state’s county-by-county approach to reopening.

Seattle Public Schools is planning for students to be in the classroom a minimum of two days per week, though fully online learning will be provided as an option.

West Virginia

Under guidance issued by the state department of education, districts are permitted to decide whether to allow in-person, hybrid or remote instruction.


The state is allowing districts to make their own decisions on whether to reopen.


State superintendent Jillian Balow said July 1 she is “confident” schools can reopen this fall, but is giving local districts flexibility to determine their own plans, according to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.

In School


Districts Decide


bottom of page