Assessing the current situation of the health crisis, President Donald Trump thinks schools can reopen this fall. This is a shared sentiment among several parents, doctors, educators, and economists everywhere. Doing so however will mean the closing down of other high-risk areas for coronavirus such as gyms and bars.
Public health experts believe that federal, local, and state officials rethink how they previously believed to open a broader economy. They think k-12 institutions should reopen instead of other establishment reopenings. They say this because only then can coronavirus transmissions come under control and it will be safer for kids to return to school.
Helen Jenkins is working as an infectious disease epidemiologist at the prestigious Boston University. According to her this society needs to reassess the priorities and will have to keep some things on hold. She acknowledges that these decisions are hard but they are equally necessary.
David Rothschild is an economist at Microsoft Research. He adds to that idea saying that the economy would also benefit greatly from reopening schools. This means it would prove not only a morally correct move but also be able to kick-start the economy.
Rothschild also said he thinks opening schools will be able to allow many adults, specifically those without much means to return to work. There’s a lot of benefit in the long run for opening schools than there is in reopening bars and restaurants.
Despite all the pros that come with reopening schools there’s still the looming risk of infection. Communities in the US have a high-level risk from coronavirus and health experts feel the decision to be risky. Regardless of whether or not schools ask children to don masks and follow social distance guidelines, the risks attached are plenty.
Coronavirus infections have long followed graduation ceremonies and summer camps. Hundreds of staff and children in areas like Texas, Missouri, Louisiana, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, New York, and Tennessee have been infected. Among these areas, organizers of at least 1 of these camps claimed they had followed guidelines advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This is why experts remind people that while making such a decision, the wider community should be safe first. This is especially important since schools do not exist in a vacuum and are equally susceptible to infections.
Jennifer Nuzzo is an epidemiologist at John’s Hopkins University’s COVID-19 Testing Insights Initiative. She says children do not have many chances of becoming seriously ill from coronavirus compared to adults who are at a higher risk. Not a lot of evidence supports that children are driving the transmission. Despite this, they can still possibly carry the virus and transmit it to vulnerable adults and those that wait for them at home.
Nuzzo says, there is enough reason to back why they should be thinking about safety measures at schools. She says opening schools should take place before higher risk environments where social distancing is harder. This however should happen only when necessary measures are working.
Reducing transmission in communities at large will make opening schools a safer option.
Nuzzo emphasizes that reopening public spaces that have proven benefits and have fewer risks attached are more important.
Even before Trump made the decision this week, the notion of opening schools has been in the air for a while. Democrats and public health experts have been talking about the importance of such a move for a while now.
Laura Kelly is a Democratic Kansas Governor. Last week she released an executive order asking for the wearing of masks so that schools could be reopened. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is another Democrat who has made similar statements after shutting down indoor bar seating after coronavirus outbreaks took place.
If society at large is able to control coronavirus, it may finally be time for children to return to schools. Reopening schools, therefore, will be without risks and children whose parents don’t have the means to teach them can finally return to a journey of learning