Delaware officials publicly released Wednesday their guidance detailing the various methods for reopening schools in the 2020-21 academic year.
Delaware parents, students, educators, and staff won't know what the reopening of schools mi…
Governor John Carney's decision on which method to adopt won't come until August, but the Department of Education, in cooperation with three working groups and the Division of Public Health, released a report July 15, 2020, that broke down what those steps might look like depending on the current status and level of control around novel coronavirus COVID-19.
“Since the day we closed school buildings, our goal has been to return students and educators to their classrooms as soon as it is safe to do so,” said Carney. “When we do return to our school buildings, we know our daily routines will look different than they did in March. Important safety measures, such as wearing face coverings and socially distancing, will help protect our children and educators and help us reduce the spread of COVID-19 so we can stay in our classrooms, where our students learn best.”
While the guidance only applies to district and charter schools, private schools are encouraged to adopt the recommendations as well, and officials recognized the approach may vary by region.
"Minimum requirements for social distancing, mask-wearing, hand-washing and other basic precautions will apply to all schools," officials said in a release detailing the guidance. "The State of Delaware will also work with districts and schools to make testing available and convenient for all educators and staff before the school year begins."
There are three primary scenarios, with the two most drastic being reopened completely for in-person instruction or closed completely, with a mixed-bag approach in the middle if COVID-19 spread remains at moderate but concerning levels. Percent positive test results and hospitalizations would remain the driving force behind any decisions.
Delaware is currently in a minimal to moderate community spread phase of the virus, and "schools will likely reopen for the 2020-2021 school year in a new environment," the report says.
Mandatory requirements include face coverings indoors for all staff and students grades 4 through 12, and access to hand-washing facilities and hand sanitizer--and time between activities to utilize them. Social distancing of 6' is recommended, but a distance of 3' with face coverings is required for students in any classroom setting. Desks must also face the same direction. There will be no permitted field trips, and any large-scale gatherings must permit for 6' between any non-household individuals from all others.
There will also be strict symptom monitoring, and any students or staff exhibiting symptoms must remain home. Schools will also be required to have a holding room for individuals who become ill during the day and need to await pickup.
“This guidance document is meant to be used as support for district and charter leaders as they continue planning for the opening of the 2020-2021 school year,” said Secretary Susan Bunting. “Essential safety protocols must be implemented by all Delaware schools, preK-12. Additionally, actionable planning steps have been included for districts and charter schools to consider as they develop their own site-based plans.”
For a full breakdown of each of the scenarios, you can read it in the included report below: