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A nationwide look: What’s happening at schools across the country?

Desks
Desks (Stock image/Pexels)

As the school year inches closer and coronavirus concerns continue, do you ever wonder what the situation looks like in other states and districts that are operating in different ways than you might imagine?

Let’s take a look at some of this week’s news.


Georgia

District struggles to teach online; quarantines grow

Georgia’s largest school district has struggled to launch online learning for its 180,000 students, as parents complained that they failed to log in to Gwinnett County’s online system.

Meanwhile, the largest district in the state that’s currently offering face-to-face instruction has now quarantined more than 1,150 students because of possible coronavirus exposure. That’s a one-day increase of more than 300 children.

According to numbers released Wednesday, around 70 students and staff members in the Cherokee County district have tested positive for COVID-19. It’s unclear whether any were infected at school. Since classes resumed last week, 1,156 students and 37 employees have been quarantined.


Washington state

Seattle schools to start with remote teaching

The Seattle school board has voted unanimously to begin the academic year with remote teaching only.

The Seattle Times reported the state’s largest school district approved the plan Wednesday.

The remote learning plan passed with a wide-ranging amendment from school board members that directs the superintendent to explore creating outdoor classes. It also reinforces teaching of Black studies and curricula developed by Indigenous communities.

But the district’s plans are far from set, because it is still bargaining with the teachers union. Those discussions will set the parameters for how teachers spend their time and for the support the district will provide in an online learning environment.


Hawaii

Teacher arrested for violating traveler quarantine

A Hawaii high school teacher was arrested for violating a traveler quarantine the state mandated to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Authorities say Mark Alan Cooper was arrested a week after teachers reported to work. He returned to Honolulu from Florida on July 27 and was spotted at a post office a few days later. It’s not clear if Cooper had been at Campbell High School before his arrest.

His attorney said he has since completed his 14-day quarantine.

An education department spokesperson says Cooper obtained appropriate quarantine leave. Cooper’s attorney says he’s never had COVID-19.


South Carolina

‘Impossible’: School boards are at heart of reopening debate

School boards nationwide are facing what one South Carolina leader calls an impossible decision.

It’s a simple question: Do we return to school amid the coronavirus pandemic?

But officials say there are no right or easy answers.

In Rock Hill, South Carolina, trustees pored through policy documents and had dozens of hours of discussions. Members ultimately decided to split students into groups and stagger in-person days at school. Board chairwoman Helena Miller called it the hardest decision of her life, involving sleepless nights with the safety of 17,000 students on her mind. Her board took a democratic approach, with much community input.

Similar scenarios are playing out across thousands of U.S. towns and cities.

We will continue to update this story as more reports come in.