There have been many debates about whether it is better, safer or more efficacious for students to be back to in-school. Heath professionals have been very cautious in light of the resurgence of the virus infections in our country. Yet our schools have had very stringent requirements placed on us so that the risk of a super-spreader impact in schools is less than in the general population. The reason for this is that students and staff are required to wear masks, socially distance and have protocols in place to protect both staff and students.
Schools could use more rapid-response testing. Short of the proposed vaccines, rapid-response testing could be the best potential way to keep schools COVID-19 free. With that tool in place we could quickly assess who would test positive and then implement mitigation measures in a way that could stop any spread and protect our students and staff.
However, research indicates that schools are one of the safest environments for students. Recently, Governors in 7 states met and concluded that in-person learning is preferable. Here are the names of the Governors and their unified statement:
The statement bolstering the case for in-person schooling was issued by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, Delaware Gov. John Carney, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. The bipartisan coalition of leaders, who have coordinated their states’ responses to the public health crisis, included the statement in a press release calling on colleges and universities to take extra precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19 as Thanksgiving approaches.
“Medical research as well as the data from Northeastern states, from across the country, and from around the world make clear that in-person learning is safe when the appropriate protections are in place, even in communities with high transmission rates,” said the governors’ statement. “In-person learning is the best possible scenario for children, especially those with special needs and from low-income families. There is also growing evidence that the more time children spend outside of school increases the risk of mental health harm and affects their ability to truly learn.”
With all the consequences of isolation and other mental health risks that are impacting our students with such personal devastation, I am encouraged that the research is showing that our students will do much better mentally and physically if they are in school. It seems to be counter-intuitive but with all the precautions and requirements placed on schools, they are the safest place for students right now. I hope that we can capitalize on this reality while keeping our students and staff safe. Hopefully, these Governors will put strategies in place to support the research they have discovered.