Countries that reopened schools were able to do so because they first got their coronavirus cases under control, experts said Thursday.
“We have fairly reassuring data from other countries that have gone about the work of reopening schools,” Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said at a news briefing sponsored by the university.
Austria, Denmark, Germany and Norway have been able to open their schools, panelists told the briefing.
Nuzzo said these countries have been “taking measures to maximize safety in the school setting.
“[T]he key is, they have all started from a place of having low transmission and low level of illness in the surrounding communities," Nuzzo said.
Simply put, “each of these countries had their epidemic under control,” Nuzzo added.
More insight: Annette Anderson, an assistant professor of education at Johns Hopkins, said one of the most important factors in getting kids back into face-to-face learning is to build trust with the parents and caregivers.
“Schools must convince parents and teachers that they are ready and safe to reopen,” she said.
Anderson said schools and districts should have parents come in and see what in-person learning will look like in the fall.
“Having parents come in to physically see what those plans look like in action, so that it's not just something ephemeral,” she said. “Parents can see what it would look like to be in a socially distanced classroom, to see what it would be like to be in a socially distanced gym class, to see what it would be like to be in a socially distanced cafeteria."