What the Botched School Reopenings Taught Us, and How to Do It Better
Can schools actually reopen safely?
After spring lockdowns, several state and local decision-makers went against the advice of health experts and reopened bars, gyms, and other risky indoor gathering places too quickly and fully, before getting Covid-19 spread under control. Infections surged, obliterating the gains made in lockdown and rendering school reopenings risky.
Already some schools are repeating the mistakes, reopening fully before the Covid calculations warrant and being forced to close within days. Yet many others have already decided to start classes online only. The bungled pandemic response has health experts and K-12 educators boiling mad as they scramble to figure out whether and how to get kids back in classrooms, on tighter-than-ever budgets, and sans any national strategy other than an unenforceable reopen mandate from the president and the education secretary.
“Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos are issuing demands, but they have not given us one thin dime,” says Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association. “They left us to figure it out on our own.”
The Debate About School Reopening, Explained
It’s not looking good for the U.S.
Meanwhile, scientists say schools could be petri dishes for Covid-19 outbreaks if mitigation efforts aren’t comprehensive and routine, endangering children, their families, and school staff. Nearly 30% of K-12 teachers are 50 or older, at higher risk for severe Covid-19 outcomes.
Health experts recommend fully opening classrooms only if the local area is in the “green zone” […], having fewer than one daily new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people.
Georgia was among the first states to experiment with full reopenings. A photo of a crowded hall with few masked students in an Atlanta district went viral. And just a week after opening, the district quarantined 925 students and staff after dozens of positive…