When Will Schools Reopen?

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said that officials making decisions about school openings should not be “cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects” of COVID-19. However, medical experts have urged caution. New York governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced that he will partner with Bill Gates — who has a controversial record on education reform — to “reimagine education,” particularly the role of technology. He said that each school will have a maximum number of students allowed inside at once, which in some cases may require staggered schedules. Subscribe now. How will schools follow social-distancing guidelines? Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that policy considerations prioritize “having students physically present in school,” and a number of schools have announced plans to reopen in the fall. In the past week, the U.S. And what will it look like when they do? However, some have pointed out a seeming contradiction in the guidelines, which, in phase two, state that schools can reopen but also recommend that people avoid gatherings of more than 50 people. President Trump has repeatedly pushed for schools to reopen, arguing that the virus doesn’t pose a threat to children. Will it be safe for schools to reopen in the fall? How will schools decide when to reopen? Meanwhile, the National Education Association has estimated that without federal aid, the education system will lose 1.9 million jobs. Testifying in front of the Senate in May, Dr. When will schools reopen? In the first phase, states could begin to reopen some businesses, such as restaurants, movie theaters, sporting venues, and places of worship, provided that they limit capacity and adhere to strict social-distancing protocols. On June 25, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that “all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.” The AAP noted that evidence shows that children and adolescents are less likely to have severe cases of COVID-19, and that “policies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within schools must be balanced with the known harms to children, adolescents, families and the community by keeping children at home.”

The American Federation of Teachers has said that for schools to safely reopen, there needs to be better testing and tracking for the virus, and schools will need access to personal protective equipment. Now, a small but growing number of states have announced that schools can reopen for in-person summer programs, including North Dakota, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Texas. For months, public health officials have warned that reopening too soon could lead to further outbreaks, and now, in many places, reopening efforts have coincided with surges in new coronavirus cases. Many school districts across the country have announced plans to reopen in the fall, including New Jersey and Connecticut, which outlined plans for resuming in-person classes last week. Even once schools do resume in-person classes, things will look a lot different than what we’re used to. In mid-April, President Trump outlined a set of federal guidelines for states to begin gradually lifting social-distancing restrictions. This spring, 48 states suspended in-person classes for the remainder of the academic year. in March, the majority of schools went on to cancel in-person classes for the remainder of the academic year. Even so, the New York Times reports that many students will probably not return to school full-time, given that schools are likely to stagger schedules and offer a hybrid of in-person and remote learning in order to limit class sizes and comply with social-distancing recommendations from the CDC. “I hesitate to make any broad statements about whether it is or is not quote ‘safe’ for kids to come back to school,” he said. The CDC guidelines state that all staff members and children over age 2 should wear cloth masks throughout the school day, and emphasize the importance of daily disinfecting of high touch surfaces and limiting use of shared equipment. One possibility is to have half of students attend class in the morning, and the other half attend in the afternoon, or operate on an every-other-day schedule. has reported record numbers of new infections, which are currently increasing in 32 states. In May, the CDC released a set of guidelines for schools reopening, which include spacing desks six feet apart, having students eat lunch at their desks instead of the cafeteria, and closing playgrounds and other communal spaces where possible. In this scenario, it’s possible that some form of distance learning would supplement in-class instruction. We’ve removed our paywall from essential coronavirus news stories. Here’s what we know. But now that all 50 states have begun reopening, there’s increasing discussion regarding when it will be safe for schools to resume in-person classes. They also suggest staggering school drop off times and having children sit one person per row on school buses. Additionally, they recommend screening students and staff for symptoms, and making plans for when people get sick, including short closings to allow for disinfecting. After the coronavirus outbreak hit the U.S. Many of the CDC recommendations are intended to minimize the number of students and adults in close contact with each other. Acknowledging that adults who work in schools are at greater risk for infection and transmission of the virus, the AAP recommends that they maintain a physical distance of six feet from other people as much as possible. Become a subscriber to support our journalists. Education officials have said that social-distancing measures will be expensive for schools to implement — and they come at the same time that many school districts are seeing their budgets cut due to the pandemic. Additionally, public-health experts have said that even once schools do reopen, they should plan for intermittent closures in the event of further outbreaks — in which case its likely that remote learning would continue. Students will also be required to wear masks, which will be provided to them for free. On Thursday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city’s schools will reopen in September. The guidelines, which recommend that states not lift stay-at-home orders or travel restrictions until the number of coronavirus cases had declined steadily for 14 days, include three phases. This post has been updated. Speaking on CNN more recently, Fauci continued to urge caution, though he also noted that keeping schools closed in the fall due to safety concerns might be “a bit of a reach.” Acknowledging that children tend to have mild cases of COVID-19, he said that he thought the approach to reopening would need to vary from place to place, depending on the local rate of infection. Assuming the number of new coronavirus cases continued to decline for another two weeks, states could then begin phase two, which would include reopening schools. For example, they recommend keeping the same group of students and staff together — all day for younger students, and as much as possible for older students. The American Federation of Teachers has estimated that schools will need $116.5 billion for additional staff and supplies to safely reopen. For example, “in many school settings, 6 feet between students is not feasible without limiting the number of students.” In such cases, the AAP recommends that schools “weigh the benefits of strict adherence … with the potential downside if remote learning is the only alternative.”

Some schools are discussing limiting class sizes, including staggering student schedules. By Erica Schwiegershausen

Photo: Shalom Ormsby Images Inc/Getty Images

We’re committed to keeping our readers informed. In their recent statement, the AAP acknowledged that some of the CDC’s guidelines will be difficult, if not impossible, for schools to implement. Many schools have hundreds of students and employees, raising questions about how they will be able to operate in accordance with social-distancing mandates.

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