“There’s good evidence we can do so safely, only if certain conditions can be met,” said Jennifer Nuzzo of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
Health experts at Johns Hopkins University reflected on the current state of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. and around the world when it came to kids in school.
Bottom line: going back to school in the middle of this pandemic will require going back to the drawing board.
But these experts say the number one factor to even consider reopening schools is simple — the current rate of infection.
“In communities where the case numbers are rapidly increasing, it may not be possible to safely reopen schools until disease transmission is lowered. We can’t stress that enough,” said Nuzzo.
Nuzzo and others say unsafe opening procedures could yield catastrophic results with spikes in COVID-19 cases leading to lockdowns, shutdowns, and all the associated economic fallout.
To avoid resetting the re-opening, proper precautions have to be taken.
Social distancing, personal protective equipment, remote learning, and even outdoor classrooms may be have to be utilized for everyone’s safety.
Younger and special needs students could benefit the most from in-person learning while older students could adapt to distance.
“This should be a national priority and that it’s much more, immeasurably more important than re-opening bars and restaurants,” says Anita Cicero, Deputy Director at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
Scientists also say the federal government will play a big role properly reopening - consistent messaging, guidance, and increased funding for schools are important for safe re-openings around the country.
In Washington, there is a desire to reopen schools, but there’s disagreement over procedures, data, and dollars.
“This is personal, it’s about our children, and at the very least the President could say we’re going to have the equipment necessary,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“The President has said unmistakably that he wants schools to open and I was just in the Oval talking to him about that and when he says open, he means open in full, kids being able to attend, each and every day at their school, the science should not stand in the way of this,” said White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.