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Back to School? Common Questions about Reopening Plans

As summer draws to a close, parents, teachers, and students may find themselves asking questions about the start of the school year and what it will look like. The announced plans for schools range from remote learning to in-person learning—or a hybrid model combining the two. The reopening of schools also looks different depending on where you live. We’ve organized answers to some of the questions that you may be pondering.


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What do the different school reopening plans look like?

Remote learning for the fall will look similar to what it looked like in the spring, but with teachers and students better prepared for the distance learning environment—meaning more consistency across the board. Any in-person learning will likely consist of smaller class sizes, shorter days, and the avoidance of lunch and recess times, which tend to result in group gatherings. Further, teachers will have the extra responsibility of enforcing mask-wearing and social distancing among their students. Hybrid models will vary by school district, but generally speaking, they could include alternating schedules, and different start dates or learning times for different grade levels.  

Can I homeschool?

If your children will be distance learning for the fall or beyond, you might be considering homeschooling, either on your own or with the help of a hired instructor. Whether you get an individual tutor for your kids or hire a homeschool instructor for a small group of families, you’ll want to ensure that all participants in your learning pod have the same understanding regarding social distancing and quarantine guidelines. 

If you plan to remove your children from school enrollment completely, be sure to communicate this change with the appropriate school district administrators. In some states, there are legal guidelines for who needs to be informed, what curriculum is used, who provides instruction, and how children should be tested. To understand the homeschooling laws that apply to your family, ask a lawyer

As a parent, what is the best way to prepare for the school year?

First, you must decide if your child’s school reopening plan is sufficient to your needs as a family and addresses any health and safety concerns you may have. If your district is offering the option between in-person classes or online education, decide which is the right choice for your family. If you have not already made the recommended legal documents that parents may need, now is a good time to do so. 

As a teacher, what is the best way to prepare for the reopening?

Many teachers are opposed to the reopening of schools for in-person education citing health concerns. Teachers who consider themselves vulnerable to COVID-19 should consider speaking with their employers. Your school may already have plans outlined for vulnerable populations. If not, it may be helpful to talk to a lawyer to understand your legal options. 

If you are a teacher giving in-person lessons this fall, it may be a good idea to complete your estate plan, so that you are well-prepared in the event that your health takes a turn. Recommend estate planning documents include a Power of Attorney, a Last Will and Testament, and an Advance Directive. It’s important to have these documents prepared and up-to-date in all scenarios, but especially if you will be increasing your risk of exposure. 

If you do not feel safe teaching in person, and want to end or pause your employment, you may communicate this decision with a Resignation Letter or request a Leave of Absence. If you have more questions about your legal rights and obligations as an employee, ask a lawyer

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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