HARRISBURG (AP) – Weeks of work at the state Department of Education could yield guidelines as early as next week for school districts in helping them decide how to reopen schools, Wolf said Friday.

Wolf’s administration has said for weeks that its goal was to get students to go back to school in the fall, and the governor said school boards will still have “a lot to say” about how they will do that.

“We are going to be opening schools. Whether it’s August or September, that depends on the local school district,” Wolf said. “No question.”

Schools, he said, will look different, perhaps with more online learning, less classroom learning and fewer students in each classroom.

The guidelines, Wolf said, are designed to help school districts keep students, staff, teachers and parents safe from the virus. They will cover class size, bus systems and sports, as well as how to mix online learning with in-person learning, Wolf said.

Of utmost importance will be inspiring confidence that schools are safe, Wolf said.

“Ultimately what it comes down to is, ‘Am I going to be confident sending my child or going to an event at school myself?’” Wolf said. “And if we can’t answer that question satisfactorily, we’re going to have trouble.”

Schools have been closed since March under Wolf’s orders to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus, keeping more than 1.7 million public school children home. It also exposed big differences in the ability of wealthier and poorer districts to educate children online.

Wolf’s education secretary, Pedro Rivera, has acknowledged that schools will need additional aid to respond to various challenges posed by school closures and the need to contain the virus.

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