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When are schools opening up? After social distancing extension, it could be a while

National News

DALLAS (NEXSTAR) — Classrooms across the country have been closed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.  With the extension of current social distancing guidelines issued by the federal government until April 30, many administrators and teachers are wondering whether schools will reopen before the summer break arrives.

On Monday, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced schools in his state would remain closed through the end of the school year.  Ducey pointed to Sunday’s extension of guidelines as his main reason for making the move.

Arizona now joins Alabama, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Vermont and Virginia in closing classrooms until the next school year. 

Because of the school shutdown, many students are now learning from home.  With the high price of internet connectivity and some parents still working, families and schools districts are being forced to figure out the best way to keep education moving forward.

The nation’s largest school districts, including Los Angeles and New York, are spending millions of dollars to provide devices and internet connections for students. Smaller districts are finding ways to boost wireless internet in school parking lots and distribute hot spots. Still, others are sticking with paper assignments and books because the digital equity issues are too much to overcome.

LIST: States that have closed all schools through the end of the school year due to coronavirus

 “What we’re seeing is a widening of the achievement gap, so that children who are in well-funded districts were able to immediately pivot to online learning strategies, because the infrastructure was already in place,” said Maura McInerney, legal director of the Education Law Center, in an interview with the Associated Press. “In sharp contrast, underfunded districts, who did not have these resources and their children do not have access to Chromebooks, for example, are scrambling to address the educational needs of students.”

While it may be too early to tell if schools will be able to reopen doors in the next few months, places like Arizona feel the extension of social distancing guidelines made it necessary to keep schools closed until the fall of 2020.

“Today’s announcement is intended to give parents and educators as much certainty as possible so they can plan and make decisions,” Gov. Ducey said in a statement. “Our number one priority will continue to be health and safety, and we will continue to work closely with public health officials to make the best decisions for kids, families, and our school communities.”

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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