Current Reopening Plans for Major School Districts

As the 2020-2021 school year begins, schools and districts are using a variety of learning models due to the spread of COVID-19. School boards, with input from a variety of stakeholders, have selected from traditional, fully digital and various hybrid models to start the new academic calendar.

Tracking the reopening plans for large school districts helps your company understand the strategy used by some of the largest potential markets in the country. This process can also provide a level of insight about how smaller districts close to the larger ones may respond. With this information in hand, it’s that much easier to adjust your marketing strategy to best align with the individual situation of each prospect.

School district

New York City has the largest single public school district in the country.

New York City

The New York City Department of Public Education administers the largest single district in the country. The 2017 Census of Governments, produced by the U.S. Census Bureau, found that the district had a total enrollment of more than 980,000 students, and more recent estimates reach as high as 1.1 million.

The current strategy in New York City is a hybrid model, where students will learn both at home and in school, along with an option for fully remote learning. Local ABC affiliate WABC reported that approximately a quarter of current students and their families have elected to use the completely online learning plan. Additionally, uncertainty remains around the start date for the school district, with educators and administrators asking to delay past the proposed Sept. 10 beginning of the academic year.

Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Unified School District served more than 630,000 students in 2017, according to the Census Bureau. That makes it the second-largest single district, trailing only New York.

The district and its teachers union recently reached an accord on how to move forward with reopening, according to local CBS affiliate KCAL. Students will learn in an online-only model and begin the new academic year on Aug. 17. The agreement addresses several considerations related specifically to online learning, such as instruction for small groups, social and emotional support for students, and both in-person and online tutoring for students in grades K-8.

The agreement will extend through the end of the 2020 calendar year, although an earlier return of students to in-classroom learning could supersede it. Students may resume in-person learning earlier if Los Angeles County meets state requirements related to COVID-19 monitoring.


Chicago’s public school system had more than 378,000 students enrolled in 2017, the Census Bureau said. The Second City has the third-largest single school district in the nation and the largest between the coasts.

Chicago students will learn remotely, at least to begin the year. The school system and some officials had pushed for a hybrid learning model, the Chicago Tribune reported. However, public health guidelines and data related to COVID-19 transmission were cited by Mayor Lori Lightfoot as reasons for the change. While not officially recognized by the mayor, pressure from parents and the possibility of a strike vote by the Chicago Teachers Union may have also pushed the school system toward a fully digital approach. Students will return to school on Sept. 3.

Keeping up with constant changes

This view into the current state of major district reopening plans as of mid-August is valuable, but in the current education environment, things can change rapidly. Education Week maintains a regularly updated list of opening dates and learning model strategies for hundreds of large districts around the country.

Agile is here to help your edtech company build the most effective marketing outreach possible, from up-to-date, accurate contact information to a wide variety of services that enhance marketing efforts and turn education data into intelligence. To learn more, get in touch with us today.

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