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State says plans for return to school will be announced next month

The Delaware Department of Education is releasing its final guidance on planning to reopen schools this fall. But the state is holding off on deciding what form reopening will take. 

DOE working groups drew up plans for three possible scenarios for the upcoming school year—a full in-person return, full remote learning or a combination of the two. 

Education Secretary Susan Bunting says a final decision on which path to take will be made early next month, but adds the department is only acting in support of the districts and charters—which are charged with making individualized plans for a safe return to school based on the state’s guidance.

“I think [the districts and charters’] biggest concern right now is, into which plan do they put most energy and most expertise,” said Bunting. “So they’re really dependent on finalizing plans based on decisions that will be made in the next couple of weeks.”    

Most of Delaware’s more than $50 million of federal coronavirus aid for schools went directly to districts and charters. The state spent about $3.5 million to bolster digital classrooms and put $3 million towards opportunity funding for 41 elementary schools.

President Trump has called for schools across the country to fully reopen this fall. Both Gov. John Carney and Sec. Bunting say Delaware’s decisions on the matter will be based primarily on local data. 

“The decisions we’re going to make are going to be based on the science - the criteria that we’ve been presenting to the public for months now,” said Carney.     

The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) recommends requiring face coverings and says social distancing could be dropped to three feet in classrooms if masks are worn. It also suggests utilization of outdoor spaces when possible.

Bunting adds PPE is available at schools in plenty of supply. Face coverings and gloves from the regional consortium Delaware joined have already reached schools. The only question would be sustaining that supply long-term.

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