The Corner


The Battle to Reopen Schools Is Largely Won

Fifth-grade students study in a classroom with plastic partitions at Louise Elementary School in Louise, Texas, November 20, 2020. (Go Nakamura/Reuters)

Some changes occur so gradually, and away from the parts of the country that occupy much of the media spotlight, that they’re easily missed. According to the American Enterprise Institute’s Return to Learn Tracker, just 6 percent of all public-school districts are holding all classes remotely, while 50 percent are taking a hybrid approach of in-person some days and for some students and distance learning for others, and 44 percent of all public-school districts are holding all classes in-person. That is the highest percentage of in-person, and the lowest percentage of fully remote, since the pandemic hit with full force in March 2020.

As recently as January 11, almost one-quarter of all public-school districts were entirely remote, 48 percent were hybrid, and 29 percent were entirely in-person. The chart does not provide a breakdown of how much “in-school” days occur in hybrid programs, whether students are spending one or two days in school, or three or four. But at least with hybrid schooling, kids are less isolated and have at least some masked-face-to-masked-face socialization and interaction with their peers and teachers.

Here and there across the country, in communities like Pueblo, Burlington, Mass., and parts of Michigan, students have gone back to remote learning for a period because of higher outbreaks of COVID-19 in their communities.

But overall, policy changes are putting more and more kids back in classrooms. Nashua, N.H. — the state’s second-largest school district — intends to fully open on Monday. Nearly 4,800 Pittsburgh Public Schools students returned to their classrooms last week as part of a phased reopening. New York City will return about 51,000 students back to classrooms later this month.


The Latest