Monday, January 25, 2021

Reopen schools with COVID testing, teacher vaccines: Shah & Weingarten

Reopen schools with COVID testing, teacher vaccines: Shah & Weingarten
With robust testing, we can open schools this spring before the vaccine is widely available
We have spent months studying this problem and finding solutions. We know how to minimize risks enough for everyone to trust being back in a classroom.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, too many of America’s 51 million public school students have lost out. While educators and school staff have been Herculean, remote learning is not a substitute for in-school instruction: Up to 30% of students lack reliable Internet access in this country. As a result, too many elementary and middle school students are falling behind; absences are up and academic performance is down.

Even worse than the impact on learning, without a school’s support and services, more children are going hungry, are socially isolated and are suffering abuse or neglect at home. With each week out of school, the social and emotional costs increase, especially for low-income and minority kids.

The latest COVID-19 surge is a clear cause for concern, and it must be addressed before schools reopen for in-person instruction. Despite the devastating rise in cases, there is some good news when it comes to children and schools, particularly young children.

Data from the United States and abroad suggest that because of strong mitigation measures, schools are some of the safest places in a community, particularly with testing in place. Widespread, regular testing remains critical to school reopening, and combined with the right steps and federal support — even before the new vaccines are widely available — the nation’s more than 98,000 public schools could be open soon, getting students back to in-person learning. 

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