Coronavirus Pandemic – The Safe Reopening of America’s Schools
US Strong news – Washington, DC: The White House reports 8.12.2020.
Statement from the Press Secretary.
President Donald J. Trump firmly believes that educating our Nation’s children is a top priority. He has continually advocated for schools to safely reopen this fall to ensure our Nation’s children receive the best education and care. As the data shows, children are at an extremely low risk for serious illness or death from the coronavirus, far less than adults and even less than from seasonal influenza. Importantly, the harms to children and families of prolonged school closures are significant and long-lasting. Today, the Trump Administration put forth recommendations to guide schools toward a pathway of safe reopening while empowering families to make the best decisions for their children. Under President Trump’s leadership, children come first.
Prolonged school closures particularly impair the education, mental health, and social development of disadvantaged and special needs children, pushing them further behind their peers and inflicting long-lasting damage on them and the country. Public K-12 teachers are generally young (median 41 years of age; 92 percent under 60 years of age); accordingly, the vast majority of them are at low risk for serious illness, hospitalization, or death from COVID-19. We know how to protect high-risk individuals from infection, including students and their families, teachers, and staff. These high-risk individuals or those with high-risk individuals in their family, can be offered options for distance learning and distance teaching. Child care centers have remained open all over the country, without significant problems for children or staff, by using commonsense mitigation measures. Prolonged school closures will severely limit economic reopening, because it limits the ability of parents to work, particularly those from lower- and middle-income families (91.4 percent of children 6-17 have an employed parent; 79 percent of single-mothers and 83.5 percent of single-fathers with children 6-17 are employed). Prolonged school closures will harm United States global competitiveness, as our peer nations have opened or are opening their schools. SCHOOLS SHOULD SAFELY REOPEN.
GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ALL SCHOOLS: Ensure all students, teachers, and staff understand the symptoms of COVID-19 and its risk factors. Require all students, teachers, and staff to self-assess their health every morning before coming to school; if they are symptomatic they should consult their physician. Encourage frequent handwashing or hand sanitizing during the school day, beginning upon entrance to the school, by ensuring that handwashing facilities are widely available throughout the school. Minimize large indoor group gatherings; hold large gatherings outdoors whenever possible. Maintain high standards of hygiene and ventilation within all classrooms, including keeping windows and doors open and running fans and AC units whenever possible. Require students, teachers, and staff to socially distance around high-risk individuals. Encourage the use of masks when social distancing is not possible. Liberally post instructions regarding hygiene and social distancing around the school.
GUIDANCE TO PROTECT HIGH-RISK TEACHERS AND HIGH-RISK STUDENTS: Students, their families, teachers, and staff should consult with their medical providers to determine if they are at high-risk from COVID-19. Provide high-risk teachers the choice to stay home and engage in distance teaching. Provide high-risk students, or students who have high-risk family members, the choice to stay home and engage in distance learning. Provide high-risk staff options to modify their work routines. Strongly encourage high-risk students, teachers, and staff to maintain social distance, avoid crowded gatherings, and wear masks when social distancing is not possible. Train school medical personnel regarding the symptoms of COVID-19; maintain isolation areas for those who become symptomatic to use while they await transportation away from school.
Since adults play a significant role in the spread of COVID-19, teachers and staff should take special care to frequently wash or sanitize their hands, and maintain distance from each other. High-risk students, teachers, and staff should be especially diligent about handwashing and social distancing; masks should be available for situations in which social distancing is not possible. Students (and their families) should monitor and self-assess for symptoms every day before going to school. Students demonstrating symptoms of COVID-19 should consult their physician. Students discovered to be COVID-19-positive must stay away from school for 10 days from the date of a positive test. Teachers and staff should monitor and self-assess for symptoms every day before going to school. Teachers and staff demonstrating symptoms of COVID-19 should consult their physician. Teachers and staff discovered to be COVID-19-positive must stay home for 10 days from the date of a positive test. All high-risk teachers should take extra precautions and be diligent about handwashing, social distancing, and wearing a mask when they are unable to social distance.