“Every day is an eternity for a young person,” Mr. Inslee, a Democrat, said. “We just could not wait any further.”
In the weeks since most of the governors acted, nationwide cases have started to rise again, which could complicate the effort to get children back in school. Many school staff members have already been offered vaccines, which has reduced the resistance from teachers’ unions to reopening and, provided staff vaccination rates are high, will limit the opportunities for the virus to spread in schools.
But for the time being, at least, the moves by these governors have yielded significant results.
In Ohio, nearly half of all students were in districts that were fully remote at the beginning of 2021. By March 1, that number was down to 4 percent, and it has shrunk further in the weeks since.
In Washington, before Mr. Inslee issued his proclamation, the state’s largest district, Seattle Public Schools, was locked in a standoff with its teachers’ union over a reopening plan. Days after Mr. Inslee announced he would require districts to bring students back at least part time, the two sides reached an agreement for all preschool and elementary school students and some older students with disabilities to return by April 5.
And in Massachusetts, Mr. Baker’s move has spurred a sea change, with dozens of districts bringing students back to school for the first time since the pandemic began, and hundreds shifting from part-time to full-time schedules.
“It’s worked exceedingly well,” Mr. DeWine, a Republican, said of his decision to offer vaccines to Ohio districts that pledged to reopen. “We’ve got these kids back in school.”