RELEASE: CAP Outlines Science-Backed Plan To Safely Reopen US Schools

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress released a new column laying out three evidence-based steps for safely reopening America’s schools. In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, CAP outlined many of the immediate decisions the federal government, states, and districts would need to make to help students continue learning, remain connected to necessary social-emotional supports, modify assessment and accountability plans, and ensure educational equity.

This latest plan comes as President Donald Trump disparages the school reopening guidelines developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos threatens to take resources away from schools who do not open five days a week for in-person instruction—despite a surge of COVID-19 case levels across the nation.

The piece’s primary recommendations include:

  1. Setting a goal of returning safely to in-person instruction based on COVID-19 prevalence (number of total cases) and incidence (number of reported new cases over a period of time) in the area as well as other factors, such as school size and ability to socially distance
  2. Making physical reopening decisions and redeterminations based on local health conditions, school-specific information, and public health guidance—including mandating masks
  3. Developing a comprehensive plan for remote learning, including plans for full-time remote learning and hybrid approaches

“Safe in-person instruction should be our national goal, but local conditions on the ground must drive policymakers’ decisions about how and when to reopen schools,” said Maura Calsyn, managing director of Health Policy at CAP. “Without driving down the number of COVID-19 cases, sufficient testing capacity, personal protective equipment (PPE) such as mandatory masks, and space to maintain social distancing, rushing to reopen schools threatens to exacerbate our public health crisis,”

“As schools stare down unprecedented challenges in the weeks ahead, including developing plans for remote and hybrid instruction, it is crucial that Congress provide them with the resources necessary to safely reopen America’s schools and ensure equitable access to learning for all students,” said Scott Sargrad, vice president of K-12 Education Policy at CAP.

Please click here to read “3 Principles for Reopening Schools Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic” by Scott Sargrad and Maura Calsyn.

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Colin Seeberger at or 202-741-6292.

To find the latest CAP resources on the coronavirus, visit our coronavirus resource page.