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Which States Have Reopened After Coronavirus Lockdown?

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After weeks of sheltering in place to slow down the spread of COVID-19, several states have announced their plans to reopen and have started to ease restrictions and restart economic and public activities. Find out which states have reopened, which businesses have been allowed to resume operations, and what restrictions remain in place at this time.

A Guide to All the State Reopenings

people social distancing at the beach

As of this writing, all 50 states have either fully or partially opened their economy and allowed businesses to resume operations. Some may still have stay-at-home orders in place but have already begun easing restrictions for select industries.

Alabama

Stay-at-home order lifted: April 30, 2020

What to expect:

  • Public gatherings may resume but social distancing guidelines should be followed.
  • Retail businesses, restaurants, bars, and breweries have reopened at limited capacity.
  • Close-contact businesses like hair salons, tattoo shops, nail salons, and barbershops may open but must follow strict social distancing and sanitation rules.
  •  Elective medical procedures may be conducted.
  • Entertainment venues like bowling alleys, arcades, concert venues, theaters, and tourist attractions may reopen.
  • Athletic activities, including team sports, may resume but practices must be limited to conditioning drills.

What’s not allowed:

Senior citizen centers, hospitals, and nursing homes continue to enforce restrictions on activities and visitation.

Alaska

Stay-at-home order lifted: April 24, 2020

What to expect:

All businesses, recreational activities, places of worship, and sports activities may reopen at full capacity—but wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing will still be strongly encouraged. Also, communities may opt to enforce stricter rules or restrictions if needed.

What’s not allowed:

Large public gatherings may not be scheduled without approval from the public health department. Visitation at the Department of Corrections, Division of Juvenile Justice, Alaska Military Youth Academy, and Alaska Psychiatric Institute facilities remain suspended.

Arizona

Stay-at-home order lifted: May 15, 2020

What to expect:

  • Retail businesses may resume limited in-person operations.
  • Restaurants and coffee shops may offer dine-in services while following sanitation and social distancing guidelines.
  • Businesses offering personal services such as barbershops, hair, nail, and waxing salons may resume offering their services. Staff must wear masks and gloves when possible.
  • Pools, spas, and fitness centers may reopen.
  • Elective surgeries are now allowed.

What’s not allowed:

Social settings or situations where proper social distancing cannot be followed.

 Arkansas

Restrictions in place, but no stay-at-home order was enforced

What to expect:

  • Retail stores, restaurants, gyms, and personal care businesses may operate at limited capacity.
  • People may gather at state parks, beaches, and other outdoor recreation spaces if individuals maintain six-feet distance apart.
  • Theaters, auditoriums, places of worship, civic centers, casinos, and other indoor venues may reopen and operate at limited capacity.

What’s not allowed:

Salons, barbershops, cosmetology clinics, and tattoo shops may not accept walk-in clients. These businesses may operate by appointment only.

California

Stay-at-home order not yet lifted; reopen dates vary from county to county

What to expect:

  • Shopping, barbershops, salons, book stores, home furnishing stores, and all kinds of retailers have been allowed to open (some are only available for curbside pickup).
  • Some parks and beaches have reopened. However, this will vary by county.
  • Restaurant dine-in now allowed, but people from different households cannot dine together.
  • Golf courses have reopened.
  • Places of worship may only accommodate up to 25% capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees.
  • Government offices such as the DMV are open for essential functions.

What’s not allowed:

Bars, gyms, movie theaters, state park campgrounds, boardwalks, and other indoor facilities/venues remain closed. Restrictions will vary. To find out what’s open (and what’s closed) in your county, click here.

All nonessential activities and gatherings are still discouraged (and in some cases, prohibited).

Colorado

Stay-at-home order lifted: April 26, 2020

What to expect:

  • Retail stores, personal care services, non-critical manufacturing, and officed-based businesses may operate at limited capacity.
  • People may participate in outdoor recreation no further than 10 miles from their homes.
  • Social gatherings, weddings, and small events are allowed as long as physical  distancing guidelines are followed and event staff use protective equipment.
  • Dine-in services at restaurants may resume.

What’s not allowed:

Bars to remain closed. Access to local playgrounds and team sports are still prohibited.

Connecticut

Stay-at-home order lifted: May 20, 2020

What to expect:

Restaurants (outdoor dining only), office-based businesses, retail shops, outdoor recreation facilities (museums & zoos), university research facilities, and businesses offering personal services may resume operations at limited capacity and according to public health guidelines.

What’s not allowed:

Businesses may not operate unless they have completed the required online self-certification prior to reopening.

Delaware

Stay-at-home order to be lifted: June 1, 2020

What to expect:

  • Retail and personal care (hair salons and barbershops) establishments may operate by appointment only.
  • Restaurants may offer dine-in services following social distancing guidelines. Bar seating is not allowed.

What’s not allowed:

Water parks and indoor play areas for children will remain closed. Close contact services such as tattoo shops, nail spas, and waxing salons are not permitted to operate. Fans are not allowed to attend events at the racetrack.

Florida

Stay-at-home order lifted: May 4, 2020

What to expect:

  • Restaurant dine-in services, retail stores, personal care businesses, gyms, and fitness centers may operate at 50% capacity.
  • State parks, public beaches, and large venues may open. Groups should not exceed 10 people and social distancing protocols must be followed.

What’s not allowed:

Indoor movie theaters to remain closed. Bars, restaurants, and nightclubs that derive 50% of their profits from alcohol sales are advised to shut down.

Georgia

Stay-at-home order lifted: April 30, 2020

What to expect:

  • Restaurants may resume dine-in services with no more than 10 diners per 500 square feet of space.
  • Retail stores, gyms, fitness centers, indoor movie theaters, and bowling alleys may operate with limited occupancy.
  • Personal care services such as hair salons, waxing salons, tanning facilities, and businesses offering massage therapy may operate by appointment only.

What’s not allowed:

Live performance venues and amusement parks to remain closed until further notice.

Hawaii

Stay-at-home order expiring on May 31, Phase 1 of reopening started May 7, 2020

What to expect:

  • Nonessential businesses such as pet grooming services, car washes, landscape agriculture, car dealerships, shopping malls, indoor fitness centers, and retail businesses may operate with minor disruptions.
  • Beaches, docks, state parks, and other outdoor recreation facilities may operate following social distancing guidelines.

What’s not allowed:

Large venues and bars to remain closed. Gatherings of over 10 people are prohibited.

Idaho

Stay-at-home order lifted: April 30, 2020

What to expect:

  • Childcare facilities, organized youth activities, and camps may resume operations.
  •  Places of worship may reopen.
  • Bars expected to reopen by the start of June.
  • Gatherings of 10-50 people may also be allowed during the next stage of reopening.
  • Mandatory 14-day quarantine for out-of-state travelers to be lifted.

What’s not allowed:

Visits to correctional and senior living facilities remain suspended. Nightclubs to remain closed.

Illinois

Stay-at-home order still in place, reopening plan enforced May 1, 2020

What to expect:

  • Bars and restaurants are open for pickup, drive-through, or delivery only.
  • Personal care services may resume operations following strict sanitary and social distancing guidelines. Gyms may offer outdoor classes and one-on-one training services.
  • Retail establishments may operate at limited capacity.

What’s not allowed:

Gatherings of more than 10 people are not allowed. Stricter restrictions remain in place in Chicago as there is still no date as to when the city will move to Phase 3 of the reopening plan.

Indiana

Stay-at-home order lifted: May 4, 2020

What to expect:

  • Retail stores, restaurant dine-in services, public libraries, shopping malls, office-based businesses, and manufacturing facilities may resume operations.
  • Gyms, pools, sports/recreational facilities, and campgrounds (for day camps) may open with social distancing limitations.
  • Houses of worship may conduct services.
  • Hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, spas, and tattoo shops may entertain clients by appointment only.

What’s not allowed:

Playgrounds, overnight youth camps, bars and nightclubs, entertainment venues, amusement parks, school facilities, and movie theaters to remain closed.

Iowa

Restrictions in place, no stay-at-home order was enforced.

What to expect:

  • Dine-in services in restaurants to resume.
  • Retail stores, places of worship, shopping malls, movie theaters, public libraries, dental clinics, and personal care services allowed to open at limited capacity.
  • Gyms and fitness facilities may operate at 50% of legal capacity and limit group activities according to social distancing guidelines.
  • Outdoor entertainment venues to reopen in June.

What’s not allowed:

Indoor live performance venues and theaters to remain closed, as well as play areas and common seating areas at shopping malls. Food court restaurants may only accept orders for take-out.

Kansas

Stay-at-home order lifted: May 3, 2020

What to expect:

  • All businesses including restaurant dine-in services, retail stores, places of worship, office-based businesses may resume operations at limited capacity.
  • Libraries, indoor recreation facilities, and childcare centers allowed to operate. Community and sports facilities to reopen as well.

What’s not allowed:

Bars, nightclubs, and pools (indoor and outdoor) shall remain closed to the public.

Kentucky

Stay-at-home order in place indefinitely, reopening plan enforced May 11, 2020

What to expect:

  •  Construction, manufacturing, and distribution, retail, personal care, and office-based businesses may resume operations at limited capacity.
  • Bowling alleys, race tracks, fitness centers, movie theaters, state park lodges, and wildlife centers to reopen in early June.

What’s not allowed:

Bars to remain closed. Youth sports activities are prohibited until further notice.

Louisiana

Stay-at-home order lifted: May 15, 2020

What to expect:

  • All nonessential businesses and places of worship to reopen at limited capacity.
  • Malls and gaming establishments must register with the government and get approval for reopening their business in advance.
  • Personal care businesses such as salons, barbershops, and nail salons may operate.

What’s not allowed:

Spas, massage establishments, tattoo shops, amusement parks, playgrounds, and adult entertainment venues to remain closed.

Maine

Stay-at-home order ending May 31, reopening plan enforced on May 11, 2020

What to expect:

  • Retail stores, restaurants, and personal care businesses allowed to reopen at limited capacity.
  • State parks, fishing, boating, and golfing facilities may operate while following social distancing guidelines.
  • Gyms and fitness centers may conduct one-on-one training or outdoor classes of 10 people or less.
  • Remote campgrounds to reopen for out-of-state residents starting June 1 (quarantine guidelines still in place).

What’s not allowed:

Dine-in services at restaurants in York, Cumberland, and Androscoggin counties to remain suspended.

  Maryland

Stay-at-home order lifted: May 15, 2020

What to expect:

  •  Retail establishments, religious facilities, manufacturing, and personal care businesses offering hair services may resume operations at reduced capacity.
  • Outdoor recreation facilities such as golf courses, driving ranges, marinas, watercraft rental businesses, and campgrounds may open to the public.

What’s not allowed:

Dine-in services at bars and restaurants will remain prohibited. Fitness centers, tattoo shops, tanning salons, massage parlors, theaters, malls, and indoor recreational establishments to stay closed.

Massachusetts

Stay-at-home order lifted: May 18, 2020

What to expect:

 Construction, manufacturing, office spaces, laboratories, personal care services (hair salons and barbershops), pet grooming, and car wash businesses allowed to reopen according to state guidelines.

What’s not allowed:

Theaters, arenas, large performance venues, and indoor recreation facilities remain closed.

Michigan

Stay-at-home order extended through June 12, reopening plan enforced May 7, 2020

What to expect:

  • Most counties classify under Phases 3 and 4 of the reopening plan.
  • Retail operations are permitted at limited capacity. Restaurants and bars may offer takeout, drive-through, or delivery services only.

What’s not allowed:

Any social gatherings in counties under Phase 3 of reopening are not allowed.

Minnesota

Stay-at-home order lifted: May 17, 2020

What to expect:

  • Retail stores, industrial, manufacturing, and office-based businesses may resume operations following social distancing guidelines.
  • Businesses offering personal care services may reopen, provided that they see clients by appointment only and require both workers and clients to wear masks at all times.

What’s not allowed:

Gyms and fitness centers remain closed. Operations at indoor and outdoor recreation facilities such as racetracks, zoos, bowling alleys, and event venues remain suspended. 

Mississippi

Stay-at-home order lifted: April 27, 2020

What to expect:

All businesses may reopen starting June 1. Retail businesses must limit the number of customers in stores to 50% of the legal capacity.

What’s not allowed:

If social distancing is not possible, gatherings exceeding 20 people indoors and 50 people outdoors shall be prohibited. If it is possible to maintain a distance of 6 feet between individuals, indoor gatherings shall be limited to 50 people and outdoor events to no more than 100 people. 

Missouri

Stay-at-home order lifted: May 3, 2020

What to expect:

  • Retail stores, restaurant dine-in services, personal care businesses, gyms, movie theaters, and entertainment venues may reopen and operate at limited capacity.
  • Places of worship may conduct religious services.

What’s not allowed:

Visitation at senior living and long-term care facilities remain suspended unless for end-of-life circumstances.

Montana

Stay-at-home order lifted: April 26, 2020

What to expect:

Retail stores, dine-in services, bars, gyms, bowling alleys, breweries, places of worship, and personal care businesses may reopen at 75% capacity.

What’s not allowed:

Visitation at nursing homes will continue to be suspended. Gatherings of over 50 people are prohibited if social distancing cannot be maintained.

Nebraska

Restrictions in place, no stay-at-home order enforced

What to expect:

  • Retail stores, dine-in services at restaurants, hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, tattoo shops, and massage therapy businesses may resume operations at limited capacity.
  • Team sports such as baseball and softball are expected to be allowed after the end of the month.

What’s not allowed:

Dining parties of more than six people will not be allowed. Buffet-style services and bars to remain closed.

Nevada

Stay-at-home order lifted: May 9, 2020

What to expect:

  • Retail stores, personal care businesses, restaurants, and outdoor recreation facilities may resume operations following social distancing guidelines.
  • Movie theaters, art galleries, gyms, water parks, fitness facilities, and religious services may reopen to the public.

What’s not allowed:

Clubs, adult entertainment establishments, and live sporting venues with spectators will remain closed. Gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited.

New Hampshire

Stay-at-home order ending May 31, reopening plan enforced May 11.

What to expect:

  • Campgrounds and similar outdoor recreational facilities may open for members and New Hampshire residents only.
  • Retail stores, drive-in theaters, golf courses, dental clinics, and manufacturing businesses may resume operations at limited capacity.
  • Amateur and youth sports, as well as child care facilities, may reopen.
  • Businesses offering acupuncture, massage, cosmetology, and body art services may operate according to state guidelines starting June 1st.

What’s not allowed:

Bar seating and indoor dining services are not allowed at restaurants. Services must be limited to outdoor dining, delivery, or curbside pick-up.

New Jersey

Stay-at-home order still in place, reopening plan enforced May 2, 2020

What to expect:

  • State parks, recreational campgrounds, beaches, boardwalks, lakeshores, other outdoor recreational businesses have reopened.
  • Nonessential businesses may offer curbside pick-up or delivery services.
  • Car and motorcycle dealerships may resume in-person sales.

What’s not allowed:

Indoor dining at restaurants to remain prohibited. Outdoor gatherings of over 25 people are not allowed.

New Mexico

Stay-at-home order lifted: May 15, 2020

What to expect:

  • Retail stores, gyms, personal care services, places of worship, and other nonessential businesses may reopen at limited capacity.
  •  Restaurants may only offer dine-in services at outdoor seating areas. Bar or counter seating is prohibited.

What’s not allowed:

Close contact businesses such as barbershops, nail salons, adult entertainment venues, tattoo shops, massage parlors, gyms, and guided tours to remain closed. Recreational facilities such as movie theaters and pools may not operate as well.

New York

Stay-at-home order still in place, reopening plan enforced May 20, 2020

What to expect:

  • Construction, agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, manufacturing, and wholesale trade businesses may resume operations.
  • Retail establishments may only offer curbside pick-up or delivery services.

What’s not allowed:

Professional services, in-store retail sales, administrative support, and real estate businesses will remain closed. Restaurants and bars may not operate as well.

North Carolina

Stay-at-home order lifted: May 22, 2020

What to expect:

  • Indoor gatherings for groups of 10 and outdoor gatherings of no more than 25 people are allowed.
  • Restaurants may offer dine-in services as long as strict social distancing guidelines are followed.
  • Most businesses and retail stores may reopen and operate at limited capacity.

What’s not allowed:

Public playgrounds, bars, nightclubs, bingo halls, indoor gyms, and fitness facilities to remain closed.

North Dakota

Restrictions in place, no stay-at-home order was enforced.

What to expect:

Retail stores, dine-in services, bars, gyms, fitness centers, and personal care businesses offering hair, nail, body art, and massage services may operate at limited capacity.

What’s not allowed:

Playing at blackjack tables, the use of hand-held entertainment at restaurants, or reservation notification devices are prohibited. Dance floors must also remain closed.

Ohio

Stay-at-home order lifted: May 29, 2020

What to expect:

  • Retail, manufacturing, distribution, construction, personal care, and office-based businesses may resume operations at limited capacity.
  • Restaurants and bars offer both indoor and outdoor dining services.
  • Childcare facilities to reopen starting May 31st.

What’s not allowed:

Full contact sports will remain prohibited. Spectators are not allowed at horse races.

Oklahoma

Restrictions in place, no stay-at-home order was enforced.

What to expect:

  • Retail stores, personal care businesses, outdoor recreation facilities, dine-in services, entertainment venues, places of worship, and office-based businesses may resume operations (restricted staffing may be lifted by June 1).
  • Organized sports activities may resume while following social distancing guidelines.

What’s not allowed:

Visits to senior living facilities will remain prohibited.

Oregon

Stay-at-home order in place indefinitely, reopening plan enforced May 15, 2020

What to expect:

Retail stores, restaurants, personal care businesses, outdoor recreation spaces, childcare facilities, and camps may reopen with restrictions.

What’s not allowed:

Local gatherings and traveling in groups of more than 25 individuals is prohibited.

Pennsylvania

Stay-at-home order still in effect, reopening plan enforced May 8.

What to expect:

  • Reopening shall happen on a per-county basis. Local governments decide when the county is ready to move to the next phase of reopening (red, yellow, green)
  • Most counties are at the yellow phase wherein in-person sales is allowed. Restaurants may offer carry-out and delivery services only.

What’s not allowed:

Personal care businesses and indoor wellness facilities will remain closed.

Rhode Island

Stay-at-home order lifted: May 8, 2020

What to expect:

  • Retail stores, restaurants, malls, office-based businesses, and outdoor recreation facilities (state parks, golf courses, campgrounds) may reopen at limited capacity.
  • Religious services may be conducted at 25% venue capacity.

What’s not allowed:

Summer camps and youth sports activities may not resume until the end of June.

South Carolina

Stay-at-home order lifted: May 4, 2020

What to expect:

  • Retail stores and dine-in services at restaurants may resume operations at limited capacity.
  • Beaches, docks, piers, water parks, amusement parks, zoos, museums, and other outdoor recreation facilities may open to the public.
  • Gyms, commercial pools, and personal care businesses may reopen.

What’s not allowed:

Self-service buffets and beverage refills are not allowed at food establishments. In-room dining and housekeeping services at hotels must remain suspended.

South Dakota

No stay-at-home order enforced

Businesses, places of worship, and childcare facilities were not required to close down and thus continue to operate. The decision to shut down was left to the employers and institutions. However, the state government recommends citizens to follow CDC guidelines regarding public gatherings and activities.

 Tennessee

Stay-at-home order lifted: April 30, 2020

What to expect:

  • Retail stores, personal care businesses, outdoor recreation facilities, and dine-in services at restaurants may resume at limited capacity.
  •  Large venues with non-contact attractions may reopen under state guidelines.

What’s not allowed:

Bars to remain closed unless for seated in-restaurant dining.

Texas

Stay-at-home order lifted: April 30, 2020

What to expect:

  • Retail stores, personal care services, dine-in services at restaurants, movie theaters, libraries, and entertainment venues may open at limited capacity.
  • Outdoor sports are allowed for groups of four or less.
  • Gyms, manufacturing, and office-based businesses to reopen on May 18.

What’s not allowed:

Patrons at gyms may not use the facilities without wearing gloves that fully cover the hands up to the wrists. Arcade games and similar equipment at bars may not be used by diners.

Utah

Restrictions in place, no stay-at-home order was enforced.

What to expect:

  • Dine-in services, personal care businesses, gyms, and fitness centers are allowed to operate while following strict hygiene and social distancing guidelines.
  • Employers are encouraged to continue adapting flexible working arrangements.

What’s not allowed:

Visits to nursing homes and residential care facilities are not allowed.

Vermont

Stay-at-home order lifted: May 15, 2020

What to expect:

  • Outdoor businesses, construction, manufacturing, and distribution services may resume operations with no more than 10 employees per location.
  • Retailers may take orders remotely over the phone or online and conduct deliveries or curbside pick-up. Personal care businesses may open at limited capacity.
  • Outpatient services such as elective medical and dental procedures may be conducted.

What’s not allowed:

Indoor dining at restaurants and bars are not allowed. Only outdoor seating may be offered to diners and reservations are encouraged.

Virginia

Stay-at-home order still in effect, reopening plan enforced on May 15.

What to expect:

  • Retail stores, places of worship, and campgrounds may reopen at 50% capacity.
  • Personal care services may be offered with a ratio of one service provider per patron.
  • Gyms may offer outdoor training services. 

What’s not allowed:

Indoor dining at restaurants is prohibited. Food establishments may offer delivery, curbside pick-up, or outdoor dining only.

Washington

Stay-at-home order expiring May 31, reopening plan takes effect June 1, 2020

What to expect:

  • Construction, manufacturing, retail, real estate, personal care, and office-based businesses may operate following strict social distancing guidelines.
  • Businesses may resume offering in-home services such as childcare or housecleaning services.

What’s not allowed:

Gatherings of more than five people from different households are prohibited. Bar seating at restaurants to remain closed.

West Virginia

Stay-at-home order lifted: May 3, 2020

What to expect:

  • Retail, restaurants, personal care, pet grooming, and outdoor recreation rental facilities may reopen at limited capacity.
  • Bars, museums, and zoos may reopen as well.
  • State park lodges and cabins will be available for use by West Virginia residents only.

What’s not allowed:

Gatherings at movie theaters, sporting events, and concerts will continue to be suspended in the foreseeable future.

Wisconsin

Stay-at-home order lifted: May 13, 2020

What to expect:

  • Retail stores, restaurants, and businesses offering personal care services have reopened at limited capacity.
  • Gathering in groups of 10 and below are allowed.

 What’s not allowed:

Restrictions differ at the county level. For example, some counties allow restaurants to offer in-room dining services, while others only allow curbside pick-up or delivery services.

 Wyoming

Restrictions in place, no stay-at-home order was enforced.

What to expect:

  • Retail stores, restaurants, gyms, fitness centers, childcare facilities, and personal care businesses may resume operations at limited capacity.
  • Gyms may offer classes with up to 20 participants, and childcare centers may allow up to 25 people per classroom.
  • Elective medical procedures may resume.
  • Outdoor gatherings of up to 250 individuals will be allowed by June 1.

 What’s not allowed:

Indoor gatherings must not exceed 25 people.

How Will the Reopening of States Affect Interstate Travel?

In mid-April, the White House launched a data-based plan for lifting restrictions and restarting the country’s economy in the wake of the COVID-19 public health crisis. Opening America recommends state governments take a three-phase approach to gradually reopen their states based on advice from public health experts.

Phase 1 will relax restrictions in states that have seen a downward trend in reported cases of COVID-like symptoms and confirmed infections within a 14-day period. During this phase, nonessential travel will continue to be limited. If these numbers drop for another two-week period, states may kick-off Phase 2 of the plan wherein nonessential travel will be allowed to resume. 

cars on the freeway

Passing the criteria a third time will trigger Phase 3, which lifts all restrictions on business and travel, with the exception of a few safety measures that will remain in place for the elderly and other high-risk individuals.

Despite failing to meet some of the criteria set by the federal government, all 50 states have started reopening their economies. As more governors announce the resumption of work and grant their constituents access to public spaces, we can expect domestic travel to pick up as well.

The recent guidance released by the National Governors Association recommends that state governments address the issue of interstate travel by forming partnerships within their regions. This is a rational approach that will allow officials to determine if travel restrictions are necessary to mitigate the spread of the virus. 

According to experts, it will take at least three weeks before they can gauge whether the reopening of states has had a positive or negative outcome. Creating a unified strategy for domestic travel is expected to help avoid a resurgence in cases, especially in bordering states which continue to have high infection rates.

Several states with low infection rates such as Montana have lifted the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for out-of-state travelers. However, public health officials encourage citizens to continue avoiding nonessential travel if possible.

When Will Schools Reopen?

kids wearing masks in classroom

Schools and universities were some of the first institutions to close in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. A total of 48 states have recommended ending the school year early to ensure the safety of students, teachers, and support staff. This was also done in part to ease the burden on educators to modify their curriculum and facilitate remote learning.

Most American parents rely on schools as centers of learning and community, allowing those who cannot afford childcare to resume work outside the home. As businesses across the country resume operations, a lot of these parents may be wondering when public schools can safely reopen.

Montana is the first state to reopen schools, announcing on May 7 that educators may resume face-to-face classes on campus. Alabama, Mississippi, and Oklahoma have also scheduled summer school programs to resume by June 1. 

However, individual school districts have the prerogative to decide when to resume in-person classes. Some of the precautions that these institutions have put in place include minimizing the number of students gathered at a time by focusing on outdoor activities, offering limited tutoring sessions by appointment, and ramping up sanitation measures.

As of now, state governments have the final say regarding when in-person learning can resume. Remote and online learning is likely to continue in the next school year as announced by officials in Washington state and Chicago. In New York, the government is considering ways to innovate learning and utilize technology in reshaping the education system to cope with the public health crisis.

More than asking when schools can resume classes, it is more important to ensure that public school systems are ready and well-equipped to face the logistical challenges that come with reopening during a pandemic. Both the American Federation of Teachers and The American Enterprise Institute have released documents outlining recommendations that can serve as a road map for the responsible reopening of schools.

Some of their suggestions include: 

  • Creating smaller class sizes
  • Split scheduling to limit the number of students present in school buildings
  • Limiting visitor access to facilities
  • Staggering arrivals/lunchtimes
  • Providing mental health support for students amidst the pandemic, and more.


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