Even though children are less vulnerable to Covid-19 than the elderly, they can still transmit the virus whether or not they show symptoms. Here, we discuss the latest school reopening guidelines to help you decide whether it’s safe to send your children to school when your local district resumes classes.
What to expect from school reopening during the pandemic
In February 2021, the CDC released a new operational strategy for school reopenings, which we’ve outlined below.
Safe school reopening and operations largely depend on low community transmission – the rate of the virus spread without a clear origin. Low community transmission means it’s safer to send children to in-person classes as there is less chance that students or staff will come to class infected, in turn reducing the chance of transmitting the virus to others.
In order to prevent a cluster of cases at a school, school districts will work with health officials to assess the rate of local community transmission as well as implement mitigation strategies during and after reopening.
These mitigation strategies include, but are not limited to:
- Required masks or facial coverings
- Social distancing in classrooms, as well as reduced classroom sizes
- Contact tracing if an active case is detected
- Handwashing stations and/or hand sanitizer readily available
- Extra personal protective equipment available for students and staff
- Visible signage reminding students and staff of all new guidance and policies
- Regular cleaning of all buildings and facilities
Questions to consider as you consider whether to send your child back to school
The CDC’s recommendations are only guidance, and every school district may have a slightly different approach to reopening and operating safely during the pandemic. In addition to checking with your school’s specific rules, here are some questions that you may want to consider as you weigh whether it’s safe enough for your student to return to in-person learning.
- Are employees screened regularly? Regular screenings reduce the chance of a staff member who is infected but asymptomatic from unintentionally passing the virus to students and other staff.
- Are students required to get screened? This may take the form of a temperature check at the door or a self-certification that the student has tested negative for Covid-19.
- What’s the attendance policy? It’s important to know whether your student will be penalized for missing class due to illness.
- What types of learning models does the school offer? Some schools offer hybrid models where students may come in on certain days but learn remotely on others.
- What are the current cleaning procedures? You’ll want to know if school facilities are cleaned throughout the day as well as after-hours. The cleaner the school is, the less chance there is for the virus to spread.
- Are desk dividers used? Desk dividers may help prevent airborne droplets from spreading, but they can also impede how well students and teachers can hear each other. Make sure your child is comfortable with desk dividers if your school plans to use them.
- Are schools using proper ventilation? Proper ventilation through well-maintained HVAC systems can help reduce the chance of the virus from spreading. Find out what steps your school is planning to take to ensure all classrooms have fresh, clean air.
- How is the district handling buses and transportation? Much like school buildings and facilities, buses are another high-traffic place where your child could accidentally contract Covid-19. Find out what kind of cleaning protocols your district plans to use.
- What are the rules about hallways and lunch? You’ll want to ask your school about hallway and lunch room rules and restrictions and review these with your child prior to sending them to school.
Have there been any outbreaks at schools?
Unfortunately, yes. Even with the best school reopening guidelines, there is no way to completely remove the risk of Covid-19 from schools and public spaces at this time. As a result, there have been outbreaks at some schools and universities that have continued offering in-person classes during the pandemic.
Should I send my child to school when it reopens?
Many parents find the benefits of in-person education outweigh the risk of the virus, and vice versa. Ultimately, it’s your decision whether your district is taking enough safety precautions to make your child’s school a safe place to learn.
Is there a reliable tracker?
There are several ways to track the rate of community transmission in your area, provided by the CDC here. You can also find your community’s health department for the latest local guidance.
In addition to community transmission trackers, there are also Covid-19 trackers for schools in specific states. Below, we’ve provided links to school reopening trackers in select states.
At-Home Covid-19 Testing Can Help Keep Your Family Safe
Since the Covid-19 pandemic is an ever-changing situation, always be sure to check with the CDC and your local school district for the most up-to-date information about school reopening guidelines.
Whether classes are in session or your school is about to reopen, getting your family tested is one of the best ways to help prevent the virus from spreading in your home. An in-home test with Drip Hydration is the fastest, safest, and most convenient way to know if someone in your family has Covid-19, whether or not they have symptoms. One of our registered nurses comes to your home and can test the entire family (up to 5 people) in a single appointment.
Give us a call if you have any questions, or book an appointment using the link below!