More than half of K-12 students nationwide can now receive in-person instruction and less than 20% are learning remotely, and a revised social distancing guideline is expected to further accelerate school reopenings.
As of Sunday, according to Burbio, a community events data service that tracks school openings, 51.2% of K-12 schools in the U.S. are offering in-person learning, 30.7% are offering hybrid plans, and 18.1% of K-12 students are attending virtual-only schools. As School Bus Fleet previously reported, the remote learning-only model continues to decline.
On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidance that, with universal masking, students should maintain a distance of at least 3 feet in classroom settings.
The CDC’s new 3-feet rule will likely speed up reopenings, especially among schools transitioning from hybrid to in-person models, according to the data service, which also noted that many districts were already using the standard, which was revised from a 6-feet distance rule.
Elementary school students should stay at least 3 feet apart in classrooms where mask use is universal, regardless of whether community transmission is low, moderate, substantial, or high, the CDC recommends. Students attending middle schools and high schools should be at least 3 feet apart in classrooms where mask use is universal and in communities where transmission is low, moderate, or substantial, but 6 feet apart in communities where transmission is high.
Last week, according to Burbio, school districts in Michigan, New York, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts used the practice of 3 feet of distance to convert from hybrid to on-campus learning. (As SBF previously reported, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak adopted the reduced social distancing requirement for high school students and increased capacity on school buses from 50% to 66%. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education eliminated capacity limits and social distancing requirements on some of the state’s school buses in February.)
Additionally, there were state-level changes to guidance in Illinois: the Illinois Department of Public Health revised its recommendation for social distancing for in-person learning from 6 feet to 3 feet for students and fully-vaccinated staff.
Plans at larger districts such as Seattle Public Schools, Portland (Ore.) Public Schools, and Kansas City (Mo.) Public Schools are gradually bringing students back to campus with a mix of hybrid and in-person learning from mid-March to mid-April. Taking a different approach is Albuquerque (N.M.) Public Schools, which is transitioning from all-virtual to completely in person on April 5.
Taking a closer look at K-5 students, just over 60% are back in the classroom, according to Burbio. Meanwhile, about 45% of students in grades 6, 7, and 8 are attending school in person, as are nearly 42% of high school students.
Overall, in-person instruction is increasing faster than hybrid learning across all grade segments, according to the data service.