The US school reopening debate is a hot topic right now, with many parents wondering if their children will have returned to schools by fall. The Trump administration is also on an aggressive push for the reopening of the schools and the economy.
In a meeting between governors of Colorado and North Dakota last week, President Trump recommended them to reopen the schools. However, he reiterated that the decision rested with local governments and states.
The major reason cited against school reopenings, however, is that the students’ safety will not be guaranteed if the process is carried out hastily. The reopening guidelines released by the Trump administration’s coronavirus taskforce are vague and have little to do with schools. If schools have reopened, a lot of factors have to be put in place to ensure the safety of students.
How will the US school reopenings proceed?
For schools to be open for the fall, enough measures and considerations will have to be decided prior to reopenings. Here are some of these factors education stakeholders are looking into”
Social Distancing challenges
School administrators and educations stakeholders are aware that it will be difficult to pull social distancing off in schools. Young students will be hard to put them separated because they are more active, always playing and social.
The lack of resources in schools is also a consideration being weighted. Debra Pace, superintendent of Osceola County School District, gave an example of traveling by bus for these students. They will need to be socially distanced and if this has to be achieved, then it will require more buses, a requirement many schools cannot meet.
Failure to meet the social distancing measures will mean schools cannot reopen safely. The possibility of further delays of US school reopenings could further be extended past the fall.
The coronavirus guidelines expect school staff and teachers to wear personal protection equipment (PPE). However, it is very vague on how students should be protected and if it will be a requirement for them to wear PPE.
The decision of who wears PPE and who does not may end up pitting parents against teachers. Fears of children being infected by the virus and bringing it home due to lack of protections my also put parents on edge and cause them to refuse to send their children to schools. Guidelines released have to be updated with clear instructions on how children will be protected and if they are required to wear PPE at all times.
Health screening and testing
Experts in the US have agreed on one thing since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the US needs to do more testing. Reopening schools in the fall without testing will put children in a riskier environment.
Health screening of students who will be attending schools must also be a priority, and this includes tasks such as taking temperature readings for these students, ensuring they have sanitizers or handwashing gels, and keeping a tap on them to ensure they maintain hygiene.
The possibility of reopening schools by fall will also highly depend on the Health Departm641ent directives and advice. While students and parents cannot wait for the lockdown restrictions to end, they understand the measures that have to be taken before reopening.
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