And many districts and colleges have yet to make final decisions, even now, with the fall term already underway in some parts of the country.
“Plans are changing right up till the moment that schools open,” said Michael Casserly, executive director of Great City Schools, a lobbying group for large districts.
Chicago Public Schools announced last week that it would begin the year online, after planning a hybrid system. Districts across the country have pushed back their opening dates. Last week, the first week of school in Georgia’s Cherokee County School District, administrators sent 14 letters to parents, each disclosing new coronavirus cases. That included 13 students, ranging from first to 12th grades, and a few teachers. More than 300 students who had been in contact with them were directed to self-isolate for 14 days.
“Our parents wanted a choice for their children, and we delivered — it is not perfect, and we all know that, but perfection is not possible in a pandemic,” Superintendent Brian V. Hightower said in a message to the community on Friday.
Another Georgia high school, in Paulding County, drew national attention after students posted pictures and video of their peers walking without masks in tightly packed hallways. Now, six students and three staff members there have tested positive for the virus, according to a letter sent to parents over the weekend. And on Sunday, the superintendent said the school would go online only for Monday and Tuesday and would announce plans beyond that on Tuesday evening.
Last week, Johns Hopkins University changed its mind and said classes would be fully online, discouraging even those who had signed leases from returning to Baltimore. Students at Washington University in St. Louis faced the opposite problem when the school said on July 31 that all dorm rooms would be converted to singles, leaving juniors and seniors scrambling to find housing at the last minute.
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