Health experts recommend planning and caution when making decisions about whether to send children back to school, including the announcement by the New York Governor Saturday that Andrew Cuomo will make a decision on the reopening of schools in New York this week.
Cuomo noted that he is monitoring the infection rate across the state. Health experts have warned against reopening in areas of the United States where Covid-19 transmission levels are still high.
Emergency medical doctor Dr Daniel Fagbuyi said on Saturday that planning is key when considering reopening. He recommends communities to consider reopening after meeting certain requirements, including achieving a positivity rate of less than 5%, imposing face masks and implementing rapid tests, social distancing and regular hand washing.
Fagbuyi noted that the measures “seem fundamental, but if you don’t have one at the same time, there is always a loophole, and once you have a loophole, the game is over.”
In this case, “game over” can be fatal.
If there is a child who gets sick and dies, unfortunately, it affects the whole community, “said Fagbuyi.
Experts say that considering these potential consequences of reopening can be helpful.
“We have to ask the question, are we willing to live with the end result of the inevitable situation in which teachers will be infected? It will happen,” said Dr. Mike Saag, associate principal for global health at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. “Are we willing to live with these consequences? Because I think that’s what we’ll see in about three months, unfortunately, with the infection rates we have.”
Saag said leaders must be willing to act on plans.
“Once a plan is drawn up, implementation must follow at a glance,” said Saag. “Otherwise, we should expect cases in schools and there will be no news that someone in Mississippi or someone in another school system has been infected.”
Hotez recommended to wait for coronavirus cases to reach containment in states before schools reopen. Saag noted that New York cases dropped to near pre-epidemic levels before considering reopening schools.
Cuomo said on Saturday that even in New York, parents are understandably worried.
It is not a choice of school districts, it is a choice of parents, “said Cuomo.” And that’s why these plans are important. “
Saag noted that it is a difficult decision, “The question is: what are we willing to live with?”