Back To School

April 2, 2021

Who’s Head Of The Class?

What to know and who’s in charge as families weigh sending their children back to school as communities confront COVID-19.


  • In America, most decisions about education policy are made at the state & local level – not by the federal gov’t.
  • Generally speaking, states set standards for curriculum and provide about half of funding for local school districts.
  • When local districts decide how to operate this fall, they will have to do so based on school reopening guidelines drafted by state education & health officials.

What To Know:

  • Just about every state has said it “plans” to open schools, but the definition of “open” varies greatly (ex: only 4 states have official August start dates).
  • The CDC issued recommendations, and most states released guidelines with learning format options as well as cleaning & distancing requirements.
  • School districts will decide how to adapt to state guidelines, leaving parents to make a big decision.
“We should try as the default to get the kids to stay in school. However, that’s going to vary from where you are in the country and what the dynamics of the outbreak are in your particular region.”

Dr. Fauci explaining why, although it’s the goal to get every child back to school as soon as possible, it’s important that school reopening decisions are made on the local level based on the data and safety of children & staff.

The Big Question: Format

Not all school districts have announced fall plans, but proposals tenatively fall into three broad categories:

  • Remote learning (ex: Los Angeles, CA)
  • Option of in-person learning OR remote learning (ex: Memphis, TN)
  • Hybrid of in-person learning AND remote learning (ex: New York, NY)

Many plans also include staggered class schedules to reduce overall class size.

This past week, NBC interviewed five pediatricians from across the U.S. about schools reopening. All agreed the benefits of sending kids back outweigh the harms and said they WILL send their kids back to school in the fall (assuming the schools are, in fact, open). You can watch their discussion on our source page.

Classes During COVID? READ HERE


State Reopening Guidance: READ HERE

Back to school: What doctors say about children and COVID-19: WORTH IT TO WATCH

by Jenna Lee,