Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Report on Re-Opening Pre-K Through 12th Grade

Environmental & Science Education
Early Childhood
Edward Hessler

Yesterday I posted about the opening of Finish early education schools--a visit to one of them to learn how COVID-19 has changed the school day. Today is a long report on opening schools in the United States and some of the important questions. What may be of most interest other than the summary are the tables which show what several other countries are doing in re-opening their schools.

Among the many debates about reopening institutions and business is waged around schools, especially since the current research suggests that children tend to have less sever forms of the COVID-19 infection and that school closures have a blunt impact on the reopening of the economy. Many adults will not be able to return to work if schools are not open this fall.

There is, of course, a devastating impact on children who don't return: learning but this is not the purview of the report. In schools, learning occurs in a variety of grouping situations, e.g., individually, small groups and whole classes. Additionally, a teacher is there to provide nearly on-demand help.

The John Hopkins Center for Health Security has just published a comprehensive guidance document because there are many unanswered questions, e.g., viral transmission to one another as well as to staff and teachers and the effect of the virus on children with underlying medical conditions. There are blanks to be filled in what we know as well as the nature of the risks.

The introduction to the report states that "There is an urgent need to understand the evidence that would support how students could safely return to school. This is an extremely difficult decision, because of the uncertainties relating to risk. While published studies to date indicate that children with COVID-19 are less likely than adults to suffer severe illness, there is only limited scientific evidence, models, and anecdotal accounts attempting to gauge whether children with COVID-19 in school can efficiently transmit the virus to other children, teachers, school staff, and family members. Unanswered questions include: How vulnerable to severe illness are students who have underlying health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, or severe obesity? How safe is it for adults who themselves have serious underlying health conditions to send their children back to school without fear of those children bringing the virus home and infecting others in the family? How safe is it for teachers, administrators, and other school staff, especially those who are medically vulnerable, to return to school and interact with students who may be asymptomatic but infectious? Are certain school communities at greater risk than others relative to exposure, and should each school community be evaluated independently to determine level of risk?"

It is long (50 pp) and in a PDF format. The focus is on pre-K through 12th grade. It does not include boarding schools, colleges/universities because the challenges there are different, e.g., congregate living arrangements. 

The appendix includes detailed and documented information in the form of easy to read tables on the following countries are dealing with this issue: Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

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