By the beginning of April, 185 countries had shut down their schools because of COVID-19, affecting 89 percent of the world’s children. Many developed countries have since reopened schools without experiencing significant outbreaks of the coronavirus. U.S. policymakers and school leaders can take into account what these countries have done as they consider whether and how to reopen schools.
Earlier this year, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) analyzed international approaches to loosening social distancing interventions — including those from Austria, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom — to gather recommendations for the United States. When selecting countries, BPC considered such criteria as the availability of data and effectiveness of the interventions based on preliminary results.
Current evidence shows that children are at lower risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 than adults.
Precautions during COVID-19
Vaccines likely will not be available for most students this school year. The good news is that reopening schools for in-person learning does not seem to significantly increase community transmission of the virus. But it depends on whether schools are able to follow COVID-19 public health guidance.
Physical distancing:- The goal for students and adults is to stay at least 6 feet apart. However, spacing desks at least 3 feet apart and avoiding close contact may have similar benefits for younger students–especially when they wear masks or cloth face coverings and do not have COVID-19 symptoms. Teachers and staff also should physically distance from each other, limiting in-person meetings and avoiding areas such as staff lounges. When possible, schools should use outdoor spaces and unused indoor spaces for instruction and meals to help with distancing.Activities like singing, band and exercising, for example, are safest outdoors.
Wear a Mask:- The CDC and WHO recommend wearing cloth face masks in public places where it’s difficult to avoid close contact with others, and schools are no exception. This advice is based on data showing that people with COVID-19 can transmit the virus before realizing that they have it.
If your child’s school requires or encourages the use of cloth face masks, consider these tips:
Wearing cloth face masks should be a priority especially when it’s hard to maintain social distance, such as on the bus, at carpool drop-off or pickup, and when entering the building.
Have multiple cloth face masks available for your child. Provide your child with a clean mask and back-up mask each day and a clean, resealable bag for them to store the mask when they can’t wear it, such as at lunch.
Label your child’s mask clearly so it’s not confused with another child’s.
Practice properly putting on and taking off cloth face masks with your child while avoiding touching the cloth portions.
Remind your child that they should clean their hands before and after touching their mask.
Instruct your child to never share or trade masks with others.
Talk to your child about the importance of wearing a face mask and model wearing them as a family.
Don’t place a face mask on a child younger than age 2, a child who has any breathing problems, or a child who has a condition that would prevent him or her from being able to remove the mask without help.
Wash your Hands:- Washing hands can keep you healthy and prevent the spread of respiratory and diarrheal infections from one person to the next.You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:
Before and after eating food
After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
After touching garbage
Health screenings and monitoring. Schools may check kids for symptoms of coronavirus each day. This can include temperature checks and symptom surveys at home or in school. If someone gets sick, there should be a process for isolating them, reporting exposures, and returning to school. Students, teachers, or school staff should stay home if they are sick. Kids should not go to school if they have had close contact with someone with COVID-19.