Dr. Tanya Altmann, spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics, joined CNN’s ongoing town hall to answer questions from viewers on what the “new normal” might look like in schools across the country.
How are parents supposed to feel safe sending their children with underlying health conditions back to school? We will all have to rely on everybody following the same rules, Altmann said – meaning everyone must stay physically distanced, wear masks, and wash their hands. Parents with sick kids will have to promise not to send them to school. It all falls on us to keep each other safe.
How can preschools and day-care centers reopen when kids that young don’t understand social distancing or safe practices? Educators may have to split kids into smaller classes, and keep them in small groups of six to 10 students at a time, Altmann said. “We can also give them their own toys to play, frequently wash them, and make sure they have the recess time outside, separate from other classes.”
How can we teach physical education when we’re sharing equipment? What about other school activities like choir? If the weather permits, doing things outdoors is one way to carry out these activities while lowering the risk of transmission.
“Maybe, instead of playing catch, people will be doing more soccer where they kick the ball, because you want to avoid touching the same balls, in terms of other kids,” said Altmann.
She added that at the school where she works, they’re thinking of holding choir and band in outdoor spaces or outdoor tents, instead of having students blow air at each other in an enclosed room.
Schools will have to adjust a lot of other activities – for instance, they may need to add more school buses so kids can socially distance on board, and encourage parents to drive their children to school when possible.