The percentage of U.S. students only able to attend school virtually continues to decline — mainly among those at the elementary level — as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have decreased nationwide.
As of Sunday, according to Burbio, a community events data service that tracks school openings, students attending school virtually dropped to under 25% (from 27.5% last week) nationwide. As School Bus Fleet previously reported, these lower numbers continue from February.
Regions with schools that have only been virtual are letting students return to campus in hybrid mode, and regions offering hybrid programs since the fall are shifting to in-person instruction, in particular for K-5 students. The percent of K-5 students attending school on site again is now 57%, according to the data service.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Wednesday ordered schools in 12 of the state's 15 counties to reopen for in-person learning by March 15 or after spring break, according to a news release from Ducey’s office. Pendergast Elementary School District is one of the state's districts that is moving out of virtual mode and re-opening for onsite learning on March 22 after its spring break ends, according to its website.
On Monday, Elko County (Nev.) School District moved from a hybrid to an in-person model and notified the community in a letter of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s changes to COVID restrictions in schools. Those include increasing capacity on school buses from 50% to 66% and decreasing the social distancing requirement for high school students from 6 feet to 3 feet.
On March 1, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a $6.6 billion dollar package to help schools to open at least K-2 in hybrid by the end of March, according to a news release from Newsom’s office.
Additionally, Massachusetts Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley on Friday gained authority to bring K-5 students back into the classroom on April 5, Boston Globe reports.
On a longer timeline, in Oregon, one of the U.S. states with the least in-person learning, according to Burbio, Gov. Kate Brown issued an executive order to return K-5 students to the classroom by at least the week of March 29 and grades K-12 by at least the week of April 19, according to the State of Oregon’s website.
Meanwhile, in Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear on Thursday signed a bill requiring all schools in the state to resume in-person learning by March 29, according to the Associated Press. Most schools in the state are already offering some degree of on-campus instruction. The bill would require school districts to offer at least a hybrid schedule with in-person classes at least two days a week and classes being held at least four days a week. Districts would still make virtual learning available when requested by parents.
By grade level, less than 20% of K-5 students now attend virtual-only schools, according to Burbio. Regarding grades 6-12, the data service notes, many virtual-only areas currently have no plans in place to return these students to the classroom.
View Burbio's K-12 school opening tracker.