Experts Weigh In: How to Reopen Schools Safely
- By Dian Schaffhauser
will be in the first wave of people to come out of stay-home orders
put in place to respond to coronavirus. That's the only way their
parents and other caregivers will be able to get back to work
themselves. To make sure their return to school is safe, a team of
clinicians, scientists and educators has examined the issues involved
in helping schools prevent the spread of COVID-19. Among the
essentials that will be required: "large-scale" viral
testing in students, appropriate communications and robust contact
Schools Safely: The Case for Collaboration, Constructive Disruption
of Pre-COVID Expectations, and Creative Solutions" will be
published shortly in The
Journal of Pediatrics.
(Until then, a
is available online.)
the journal article pointed out, a return to in-person school is
complex. Planning for reopening must be "more deliberate"
than the closing was, "delineating precisely how, when, under
what conditions, and base the reopening on available data."
the many complexities:
severe COVID-19 is uncommon in children, the article noted, more
community-based data is needed to determine whether most children
avoid infection, or if infected, largely are asymptomatic. Therefore,
"large-scale viral nucleic acid and serological testing in
children is needed to guide safe school reopening," the experts
asserted. That in turn will require non-traditional testing sites
such as homes, schools and "child-friendly" self-collection
authors also called for the expansion of school-based health centers
as schools reopen and a review and adjustment of programs such as
federally assisted school-based meal plans "to meet the
unprecedented circumstances" of a seemingly ever-growing rate of
unemployment among parents and caregivers.
community at large will need to view schools as 'healthy places' for
children and society," the article explained. "This could
be accomplished by building public health-focused collaboratives
capable of continuous learning and rapid cycles of implementation, as
COVID-19 information evolves at breakneck speed. Otherwise, we risk
further compounding the incalculable damage already incurred by
COVID-19 among children across our country and the world."
Cooper, a University
of California at Irvine
professor of pediatrics, co-wrote the article with Lisa Guay-Woodford
from the Children's
National Research Institute at George Washington University School of
Medicine and Health Sciences,
with contributions from 15 other experts.
proof version of the article is currently available on
The Journal of Pediatrics website.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.