Implementing necessary safety measures to reopen schools will be hard but necessary, a panel of public health experts said Thursday.
“We don't think that hard should necessarily be a deterrent, but certainly we acknowledge the resources that schools will need in order to do this, and this is where federal support is absolutely necessary,” said Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Nuzzo stressed the importance of physical spacing in the classroom, even potentially using outdoor classrooms for as long as weather will allow, noting that countries that are colder than the US have implemented this strategy.
The senior scholar said promoting hygiene will be key – supplying students and staff with soap and hand sanitizer and encouraging them to use it often. She said students should be checked for symptoms daily, and schools should have extra masks on hand for students who do not bring their own.
Anita Cicero, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said creative approaches, such as using toys as physical distancing markers or making fun masks, could help younger children adhere to important safety measures.
Grouping young children and those with underlying health conditions in “bubbles” to limit interaction upon their return to school, Cicero and Nuzzo suggested during the briefing, hosted by Johns Hopkins.
Nuzzo said that transportation may require some creative solutions such as carpooling within designated bubbles, using vans or implementing staggered start times.