CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: Which US states could re-open schools first?

Most US governors have confirmed that schools in their states will remain shut for the rest of the academic year, however there are a couple of states looking at opening in May and July.

Coronavirus: Which US states could re-open schools first?
FREDERIC J. BROWN AFP

While Donald Trump has urged the United States' governors to "seriously consider" reopening schools this year, it remains to be seen how many will actually do so, with most states having already announced that schools would remain closed for the rest of the 2019-20 academic term.

However, there are a couple of rural states holding out hope for opening some schools in May, while a others aim to get the new school year started early in July to make up for lost time.

Idaho and Wyoming schools could open in May

Idaho has opened a pathway for any public schools wanting to open their doors this year, with the Idaho State Board of Education having already issued criteria which would allow schools to return in May.

Likewise, Wyoming has also not ruled out students returning to classrooms before summer. "Wyoming has over 90,000 square miles, so it is conceivable that some schools open fully, some schools open partially, and some remain closed," said Michelle Panos, spokeswoman for the Wyoming Department of Education.

In South Dakota, Governor Kristi Noem unveiled her plan on Tuesday to get the state “back to normal”, and has asked schools to consider hosting small groups of students in school to check in with them before the school year ends.

California and Mississippi study opening schools in July

In Mississippi, the state superintendent, Carey Wright, has said she hopes schools may be able to reopen in late July – after summer break, but slightly earlier than their usual restart date in early August. However, Ms. Wright acknowledged that it would depend on how things unfold in Mississippi, where infections are still rising and the governor’s “stay-at-home” orders are still in force.

California schoolchildren may also return to classrooms as early as July though there will likely be several modifications, Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Tuesday. “That learning loss is very real,” Newsom said. “If we can maybe start up the school year a little earlier, maybe we can help close that gap.”

While states like California and Mississippi have suggested the possibility of starting the next academic term in July to make up for lost time, most governors remain cautious and will unlikely move to open classrooms earlier than usual, despite President Trump’s calls to reopen this year.