COVID-19

K-12 State Reopening Plans (Fall 2021)

With the 2021-2022 school year upon us, states are developing plans for how schools will safely return to in-person instruction. The approaches taken by states will vary, with some mandating the use of masks in schools, while others have passed laws preventing such mandates. Additionally, approaches will vary in terms of physical distancing requirements, vaccination promotion, and other mitigation measures. The table below assembled by The Hunt Institute provides policymakers and stakeholders information on how states are approaching school reopenings for the coming academic year. This table will be updated over the next several months, so we encourage you to revisit this page for updates.

StateHas The State Issued a Return to Learn Plan for 2021-2022 Academic Year?If State Guidance has Been Issued, What Mitigation Measures is the State Asking Be Put in Place for the 2021-2022 Academic Year?Source

Alabama
NoAlabama has not released formalized guidance for re-opening schools for the 2021-2022 academic year; however, several counties have made mask-wearing optional. Districts in Shelby County, Washington County and Pell City have all made masks optional, AL.com reported. In Mobile County Public Schools, masks will be optional when the new school year starts, 15News reported.Link

Alaska
NoAlaska has not released formalized guidance for re-opening schools for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Arizona
NoArizona has not released formalized guidance for re-opening schools for the 2021-2022 academic year. The state announced in April it will no longer mandate masks for students and staff at Arizona schools, though districts can choose their own mask policies.
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Arkansas
No Arkansas has not released formalized guidance for re-opening schools for the 2021-2022 academic year. According to NPR, the state passed a law making it illegal by the end of the summer for schools or any government entity to require masks.
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California
YesCalifornia's Department of Education developed the Safe Schools for All Plan as guidance for LEAs as they re-open schools in fall 2021. The plan includes guidance for face masks, vaccination for students, youth activities, and child care.

Students under the age of 18 must have parental or guardian consent to receive a vaccination.

Students and staff in the state will be required to continue using masks indoors in school settings, whether they are immunized or not.

The state will continue providing free Covid-19 testing.

Physical distancing in schools is not recommended “due to the obstacles it would present to California schools’ full reopening.”
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Colorado
No The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will update guidance for the coming school year based on feedback received and additional study and research expected this summer, according to a letter to superintendents from CDPHE Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan (PDF).

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Connecticut
No Connecticut has not released formalized guidance for the 2021-2022 academic year; however, a judge in Connecticut ruled that the state can continue to require masks in schools. Link

Delaware
No Delaware has not released formalized guidance for the 2021-2022 academic year, but updated K-12 guidance in May. Included in its updated guidelines are the following provisions:

Masks & Physical Distancing: Students and staff must maintain a minimum of three feet apart with face coverings, including when seated at desks or standing in classrooms. Desks must be arranged so they are facing the same direction. If tables are used, students must be seated a minimum of three feet apart with face coverings. Beginning with summer programming, students must be seated a minimum of three feet apart when eating. Masks must be worn until students begin eating, and put back on when students are done eating.
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District of Columbia
YesThe District of Columbia plans to re-open schools for the 2021-2022 academic year. The current plan sets the following requirements for issues ranging from HVAC to screening:

- HVAC: HVAC enhancements allow for well-ventilated spaces at every school, including state-of-the-art HEPA filters in classrooms and air quality sensors throughout the building.
- Masks: All staff, students, and visitors must wear a mask or face covering, and daily PPE and hygiene supplies will be provided.​
- Cleaning: Enhanced cleaning protocols for high touch surfaces, and a deep cleaning completed after a suspected or reported COVID-19 case.​
- Physical Distancing: Students should be separated as far as possible, and individual desks and tables are to be facing the same direction to the extent feasible.
- Meals: Pre-K and Kindergarten students will eat in the classroom and all other grades will eat in the cafeteria. Social distancing should be followed while eating and drinking, to the extent feasible.
- Cohorting: Student cohort interactions will be limited to the extent feasible, but there will be no cap for student or staff cohort interactions in any grade.​
- Screening: Students and staff will complete a daily “Ask, Ask, Look” screening, but temperatures will not be taken upon arrival at school.
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Florida
No Florida has not released formalized guidance for re-opening schools for the 2021-2022 academic year. Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran issued a letter in April telling school districts to amend their mask policies for the 2021-22 school year to make masks optional for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Several districts in Florida, such as Pinellas, Collier, and Polk County Schools, have made masks optional for the upcoming school year. Polk County District Superintendent Jeff Heid said the district should be ready to reinstitute a mask mandate during future viral outbreaks.
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Georgia
Yes In March, Governor Brian Kemp issued an executive order proclaiming schools no longer have the authority “to rely on the Public Health State of Emergency as a basis for requiring students or workers to wear a face covering.” In June, the Georgia Department of Health updated its K-12 guidelines for the 2021-2022 academic year. The Department of Health recommends the following for schools regarding mitigation strategies:

Vaccines: Schools are recommended to encourage all eligible students and staff members to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19. People who are fully vaccinated are at low risk of symptomatic or severe infection. There is evidence that suggests fully vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infections or transmit COVID-19 to others.

Physical Distancing: Schools are recommended to encourage physical distancing through a variety of ways:
- Within elementary school classrooms physical distance between students should be at least 3 feet.
- Within middle and high school classrooms, physical distance between students should be
at least 3 feet unless community transmission is high (i.e., ≥100 cases/100,000 in the past
7 days).
- In areas of high transmission distance of 6 feet should be maintained.
- Six feet of distance should be maintained for several scenarios and locations, including moments where masks can't be worn, during activities of increased exhalation, and in common areas.
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Hawaii
YesThe Hawai'i Department of Education released its Return to Learn: School Reopening Plan in May 2021, making the several updates regarding virus mitigation strategies.

Masks are required when...
- Entering and exiting a school campus;
- On school buses;
- During campus transitions (e.g. moving from class to class, to an office, the library, cafeteria or locker room);
- In the bathroom;
- In the cafeteria (masks may be removed when students are eating);
- In the classroom;
- When facial features need to be seen by teachers or students to support learning or an activity, a clear face covering (e.g. mask with a clear window) may be worn. Note: clear face coverings are NOT face shields.
- In the health room;
- During recess.

Vaccinations: The state began offering COVID vaccines at school-based mobile clinics for students 16+ in May.
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Idaho
NoIdaho has not issued formalized guidance for the re-opening of schools during the 2021-2022 academic year. Recently, Governor Brad Little repealed a mask mandate ban that had been enacted the day before, while he was out of state, by Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin.Link

Illinois
Yes On May 24, the Illinois State Board of Education issued a Resolution Supporting In-Person Instruction. According to that resolution, a forthcoming declaration from the state superintendent of education will require public schools to provide fully in-person learning for the 2021-2022 academic school year, with remote instruction available only to students who 1) are not eligible for the vaccine (i.e., under 12 years of age) and 2) are under a quarantine order by the local health department or the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The Illinois Department of Health routinely updates its COVID-19 guidance for K-12 schools. In the guidance, the Department calls for prioritizing safe returns to in-person learning for fall 2021, promoting vaccines in schools, and indoor mask-wearing for all individuals ages two and older. Additionally, the state will not require fully vaccinated teachers or students to wear masks in schools.
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Indiana
Yes In June, the Indiana Department of Health released its fall 2021 guidance for K-12 public schools. These guidelines are not mandatory, as districts will be able to set their own policies for the fall. The Department of Health recommends the following regarding virus mitigation strategies:

- Masks: Recommended for students who are not vaccinated, vulnerable individuals who may be at increased risk of illness, and anyone who feels more comfortable wearing a mask.

- Physical Distancing: At least 3 feet between all students in a classroom (During educational school day and encourage cohorting) and at least 6 feet of distance between adults in the school building and between adults and students, in common areas, when masks can't be worn, during activities involving increased exhalation, and/or in community settings outside the classroom.

- Vaccinations: Encourage vaccination of staff and students as they become eligible for vaccination.
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Iowa
No Iowa has not released formalized guidance for K-12 schools for the 2021-2022 academic year, but did mandate that districts provide an in-person option for all students. In January, Governor Kim Reynolds signed legislation requiring Iowa schools to give parents the option to send their children to school five days a week. The law went into effect on May 20th.Link1 Link2

Kansas
NoKansas has not released formalized guidance for K-12 schools for the 2021-2022 academic year.

At the district level, students and staff in Hays USD 489 no longer have to wear masks at their desks, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. They will have to wear masks when in food lines, entering school buildings and congregating in hallways. The district will also stop taking students’ temperatures each morning.
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Kentucky
NoOn July 27th, Governor Andy Beshear released K-12 guidance in response to surging cases resulting from the COVID-19 Delta Variant. The recommendations issued include the following:

School districts should require all unvaccinated students and unvaccinated adults to wear a mask when in classrooms and other indoor school settings;

School districts should require all students under 12 years of age to wear a mask when in classrooms and other indoor school settings; and

School districts wishing to optimize safety and minimize risk of educational and athletic disruption should require all students and all adults to wear a mask while in classrooms and other indoor school settings.
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Louisiana
Yes Recently, the Louisiana Department of Education released guidance for schools for the 2021-2022 academic year. The state's guidance includes the following provisions regarding virus mitigation:

Physical Distancing: Classes are expected to maintain spacing of three feet.

Masks: Masking policies will be determined by local school governing authorities. "LDH’s current recommendation, based on CDC guidelines, is that all unvaccinated adults and students in grades 3 through 12 should wear a face covering to the greatest extent possible and practical within the local community context.
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Maine
Yes The State of Maine has developed requirements for schools to follow to reopen schools safely this fall. The State has outlined the following requirements regarding masks and physical distancing:

- Physical Distancing and Facilities: Starting in May 2021, all schools have another risk mitigation strategy provided by the State at no cost: routine pooled COVID-19 PCR testing of unvaccinated students and staff. This will allow early identification and isolation of asymptomatic COVID-19 cases, making in-classroom education safer. As such, Maine is updating its six requirements to change the three-foot distancing requirement in schools to a recommendation, provided that the school is participating in the State’s pooled testing program. Participation is defined as having at least 30% of school staff and students participating in the program (see the School Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for details.) This program is available now, and will continue to be continue to available through the 2021-2022 school year. Although the Maine CDC continues to recommend a minimum three-foot distancing between and among all students, schools that are participating in the testing program may shift away from this as a requirement after achieving the minimum 30% participation. The requirement for six-feet distance when unmasked and eating or drinking continues to apply, unless a school is participating in pooled testing.

- Masks: Adults (including educators and staff) must wear masks when indoors. Students over the age of five are required to wear masks, and students ages two to four are recommended to wear masks when developmentally appropriate.
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Maryland
No, but state has issued interim guidance.Maryland has not released formalized guidance for the re-opening of schools in fall 2021, but did update its K-12 guidance in May, outlining the following requirements for masks, physical distancing, and other mitigation strategies:
- As of May, schools in Maryland are allowed to re-open for in-person learning.
- Physical Distancing: The Maryland Department of Health and Maryland Department of Education recommend that nonpublic schools and local schools systems follow CDC guidance for physical distancing while in the school building, on school grounds and on school buses. According to the CDC, students should be at least 3 feet apart in elementary schools.
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Massachusetts
Yes According to guidance released by the Baker Administration in May, Massachusetts will require all schools to offer in-person, full-time, five-days-a-week learning for the 2021-2022 academic year.

In July, the Center for Disease Control updated K-12 guidance regarding school reopening, saying that masks should be worn indoors by all people ages two and older who are not vaccinated.
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Michigan
No, but state has issued interim guidance.In June, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services updated its interim guidance for schools.

The guidance calls for schools to layer multiple prevention strategies developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in schools, including the promotion of vaccinations for eligible recipients, use of well-fitted face masks, and physical distancing.
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Minnesota
No, but state has issued interim guidance.Michigan has not released formalized guidance for the re-opening of schools in fall 2021.

In June, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) released COVID-19 Prevention Guidance for Summer School. This guidance provides health recommendations to pre-K through grade 12 schools, asking that schools adopt the following virus mitigation strategies:
- Face coverings: All people are required by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order to wear face coverings on all public transportation conveyances (airports, public buses, etc.), including school buses.
- Minnesota recommends schools follow the CDC's guidance on physical distancing and cohorting. Moreover, the state recommends that schools evaluate classroom capacity with the goal of creating as much space between students as possible. The CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend placing student desks at least 3 feet apart at a minimum, and up to 6 feet apart in areas of high community transmission in settings where cohorting is not possible.
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Mississippi
NoMississippi has not issued formalized guidance for a return to in-person learning for the 2021-2022 academic year, but has collected return-to-learn plans submitted by districts. Link

Missouri
YesIn July, the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released guidelines for K-12 schools for the 2021-2022 academic year. In the guidance, the agencies suggested the following mitigation measures:
- Vaccinations: Missouri expects local education agencies to work with local public health agencies or other state enrolled vaccinators to offer vaccinations to eligible staff and students.
- Masks and Face Coverings: The Departments state that "...policies regarding masks should be made at the discretion of the local boards of education, after consideration of community transmission and positivity rates within a community, and should be considered for adjustment as public health circumstances dictate. Such policies should be developed with consultation of state and/or local health authorities, as statutory and regulatory authority to mitigate risk of transmission, up to and including school closures, remains within their jurisdiction."
- Physical Distancing: The Departments state that "cohorting can be used to limit the number of students, teachers, and staff who come in contact with each other, especially when it is challenging to maintain physical distancing, such as among young children, and particularly in areas of moderate-to-high transmission levels. The use of cohorting can limit the spread of COVID-19 between cohorts but should not replace other prevention measures within each group. Cohorting people who are fully vaccinated and people who are not fully vaccinated into separate cohorts is not recommended."

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Montana
NoMontana has not released formalized guidance for schools for the 2021-2022 academic year.

At the district level, the Bozeman School District no longer requires masks, a year after implementing a mandate, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported. People who aren’t fully vaccinated and those at high risk will be encouraged to wear a masks indoors, the newspaper reported.
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Nebraska
NoNebraska has not released formalized guidance for schools for the 2021-2022 academic year.

In early July, Beatrice Public Schools made masks optional for students and staff, the Lincoln Daily Star reported.
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Nevada
NoNevada has not released formalized guidance for schools for the 2021-2022 academic year. Districts in Nevada, including the Carson City School District, are submitting re-opening plans to the Department of Education. It is anticipated that districts and schools will open for the 2021-2022 school year with the capacity to offer in-person learning. Link

New Hampshire
NoNew Hampshire has not released formalized guidance for schools for the 2021-2022 academic year.

New Jersey
Yes Recently, New Jersey issued state guidelines for schools as they prepare to return to in-person learning for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Vaccinations: Local education agencies (LEAs) are encouraged to have a system in place to determine the vaccination status of students and staff, however, if an LEA is unable to determine the vaccination status of individual students or staff, those individuals should be considered not fully vaccinated.

Face Coverings: Updated CDC guidance on masking in this setting is expected prior to the start of the 2021-2022 school year and will factor into the final recommendations from New Jersey for masking this fall. This guidance will be updated following that release.

Physical Distancing: For the 2021-2022 school year, LEAs should consider implementing physical distancing measures as an effective COVID-19 prevention strategy to the extent they are equipped to do so while still providing regular school operations to all students and staff in-person. During periods of high community transmission or if vaccine coverage is low, if the maximal social distancing recommendations below cannot be maintained, LEAs should, where possible, prioritize other prevention measures including masking, screening testing, and cohorting.
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New Mexico
NoNew Mexico has not issued formalized guidance for schools for the 2021-2022 academic year. On July 9th, the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) issued a statement following newly released guidance from the CDC regarding K-12 public schools which, among several recommendations, calls for a full return to in-person learning. The NMPED is reviewing the CDC's new recommendations before updating its COVID-19 toolkit; the NMPED released its most recent toolkit in April.Link1 Link2

New York
No, but state has issued interim guidance.New York has not issued formalized guidance for schools for the 2021-2022 academic year.

In June, the New York Department of Health released interim guidance for in-person instruction for grades Pre-K to 12. The guidance outlines several recommendations for districts regarding virus mitigation, including the following:

- Masks: Responsible Parties must maintain protocols and procedures for students, faculty, staff, and other individuals to ensure appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is used to protect against the transmission of the COVID-19 virus when in indoor school facilities. Specifically, appropriate PPE means, at least, an acceptable mask, which is required to be worn by all individuals in all classroom and non-classroom settings, including but not limited to hallways, school offices, restrooms, gyms, auditoriums, etc. All visitors must wear masks. Effective June 7, 2021, face masks are not required to be worn outdoors on school grounds, including during outdoor school sports.

- Physical Distancing: Responsible Parties must maintain protocols and procedures for students, faculty, and staff to ensure appropriate physical distancing to protect against the transmission of the COVID-19 virus when on school grounds and in school facilities.
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North Carolina
Yes North Carolina's K-12 Schools will return to full in-person learning. On July 21st, North Carolina updated its StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit (K-12) to focus on COVID-19 prevention for the upcoming school year. The guidance outlines the following COVID-19 prevention strategies:

Face Masks: The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) asks that all children and staff in grades K-8 wear face masks consistently when indoors. Additionally, NCDHHS asks schools should ensure that face coverings are worn indoors by all individuals who are not fully vaccinated, including students grades 9th-12th, workers, teachers, guests, other adults and children age two (2) or older, unless an exception applies.

Physical Distancing: Students should maintain a minimum distance of three feet from one another.

Vaccinations: NCDHHS will allow schools to promote vaccinations. Currently, students 12 years or older are eligible for the vaccine.
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North Dakota
No North Dakota has not issued formalized guidance for K12 schools for the 2021-2022 academic year. Link

Ohio
Yes In July, the Ohio Department of Health released guidance for K-12 schools for the 2021-2022 academic year. In the guidance, the Department requires the following virus mitigation strategies:
- Vaccinations: The Department strongly recommends vaccinations for staff and eligible students.
- Masks: The Department strongly recommends that those who are unvaccinated wear masks in school. For those districts not opting to require masks, parents will still have the option to have their children wear masks while in school or participating in school activities.
- Physcial Distancing: When it is not possible to maintain at least three feet of distance between students in the classroom, the Department advises that schools layer other prevention strategies, including indoor masking, testing, cohorting, and/or improved ventiliation.
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Oklahoma
No Oklahoma has not issued formalized guidance for K12 schools for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Oregon
Yes Recently, Oregon released its state guidelines for reopening schools for the 2021-2022 academic year. Recommendations issued by the state on virus mitigation measures include the following:

Vaccinations: Under Oregon law, minors 15 and older may give consent to receive medical treatment, including vaccinations. Parental or guardian consent is required to vaccinate people 12-14 years old.

Face Coverings: OHA and ODE strongly advise face coverings for all students in grades kindergarten and up, and all staff when students are inside the building. Certain accommodations for medical needs or disability may be necessary.

Physical Distancing: OHA and ODE strongly advise that schools support and promote physical distancing (a minimum of 3 feet apart).
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Pennsylvania
NoPennsylvania has not issued formalized guidance for K12 schools for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Superintendent Dr. William Hite said masks will be required in the Philadelphia School District in the fall, WPVI-TV reported. But in the city’s suburbs, the Central Bucks School District has made masks optional for the final week of school, according to WPVI-TV.
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Rhode Island
NoRhode Island has not issued formalized guidance for K12 schools for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Fully vaccinated students, teachers and staff will not have to wear masks inside schools, state officials announced on June 30, WPRI reported.
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South Carolina
No, but the state is requiring districts to provide full-time instruction this fall.South Carolina has not issued formalized guidance for K12 schools for the 2021-2022 academic year, but the state's Department of Health and Environmental Control is reviewing the CDC's newly-released guidance and will use that guidance when drafting new state-specific guidelines in the coming weeks. Link

South Dakota
NoSouth Dakota has not issued formalized guidance for K12 schools for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Rapid City Area Schools announced the students and staff will be encouraged, but not required, to wear masks when schools open for in-person instruction, five days a week in the fall, KEVN-TV reported.
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Tennessee
NoTennessee has not issued formalized guidance for K12 schools for the 2021-2022 academic year.

In June, Metro-Nashville Public Schools ended masks mandates, and several other school districts, including Johnson City Schools, Campbell County Schools, and Maryville City Schools, are loosening masking requirements.

Texas
NoTexas has not issued formalized guidance for K12 schools for the 2021-2022 academic year. In May, Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order banning school mask mandates. Link

Utah
NoUtah has not issued formalized guidance for K12 schools for the 2021-2022 academic year. The Utah Legislature passed a mask mandate ban on May 20th. Link

Vermont
NoVermont has not issued formalized guidance for K12 schools for the 2021-2022 academic year, but is working on an Education Recovery Framework and Toolkit for use by Vermont school districts when planning for and engaging in activities to address the educational impacts of COVID-19.Link1 Link2

Virginia
NoVirginia has not issued formalized guidance for K12 schools for the 2021-2022 academic year. Masks remain a requirement indoors at the state’s K-12 schools.Link1 Link2

Washington
Yes Recently, Washington issued formalized guidance for schools for the 2021-2022 academic year, outlining the following requirements regarding virus mitigation strategies:

Masks: All students, school personnel, volunteers, and visitors must wear cloth face coverings or an acceptable alternative (e.g., surgical mask) at school when indoors, as well as when outdoors where a minimum of six feet distancing cannot be maintained. Face coverings should not be worn by:
o Those under 2 years of age.
o Those with a disability that prevents them from comfortably wearing or
removing a face covering.
o Those with certain respiratory conditions.
o Those who are deaf or hard of hearing, and those who provide instruction to
such people, and use facial and mouth movements apart of communication.
o Those advised by a medical, legal, or behavioral health professional that
wearing a face covering may pose a risk to that person.

Physical Distancing: Maintain three feet of distance between students in classroom settings to the degree possible. Maintain six feet of distance between students to the degree possible for the following circumstances:
• Between adults/staff in the school building and between adults and students.
• For all staff and student in common areas, such as school lobbies and auditoriums.
• For all staff and students when masks can’t be worn, such as when eating lunch.
• For all staff and students during activities when increased exhalation occurs, such as PE, exercise, or shouting. These activities should be moved outdoors or to large, well-ventilated spaces whenever possible.
• For all staff and students, in community settings outside of the classroom

Vaccinations: Schools should actively promote vaccination
among all eligible students, staff, and volunteers

West Virginia
No West Virginia has not issued formalized guidance for schools for the 2021-2022 academic year, but has developed a risk metric for districts regarding COVID-19 transmission. Depending on how each county is performing in the state's virus risk metric, they will each be assigned one of four colors: green, yellow, orange, or red.

- Green indicates that a county is experiencing minimal community transmission, allowing counties to operate under general re-entry guidelines while continuing to follow best health practices to prevent the spread of the disease.

- Yellow indicates that a county is experiencing moderate community transmission and increased restrictions may be necessary.

- Orange indicates that a county is experiencing higher community transmission and further restrictions will be necessary, in collaboration with local health officials.

- Red indicates that a county is experiencing substantial community transmission. Under these conditions all in-person instruction would be suspended and remote learning plans would be activated. Staff would continue essential support services, including meals, student engagement, and special education.
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Wisconsin
NoThe Wisconsin Department of Health has issued post-vaccination guidelines and guidelines for preventing COVID outbreaks in schools, but the state has not issued formalized guidance for reopening schools for the 2021-2022 academic year.

At the district level, Milwaukee Public Schools will require students to wear masks in the fall. Shawano School Districts have lifted mask requirements, but recommned the usage of masks. Several rural and suburban district have lifted mask requirements.
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Wyoming
NoWyoming has not issued formalized guidance for schools for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Ten Wyoming school districts have dropped face mask requirements in recent weeks, The Casper Star-Tribune reported.
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