Considerations for Reopening U.S. Schools and Daycare Programs

The Center for Health Security at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has released Filling in the Blanks: National Research Needs to Guide Decisions About Reopening Schools in the United States. This report details current research efforts, as well as gabs in data, that may prove crucial in making constructive decisions about reopening schools and daycare programs amid the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic.

Although research pertaining to children and COVID-19 has been  limited, some nations have schools and daycare programs that have either remained open or are already reopened. At the very least, most countries, including the U.S., have already developed some type of guidance for reopening these services. Approaches to reopening have varied but most countries have implemented remote or blended learning options. In addition to this, some countries have instituted in-person classes for vulnerable students or those whose parent(s) are essential workers, while others have established universal in-person classes with the option to attend remotely. It’s important to note that even in-person classes and daycare programs are implementing mitigation efforts such as physical distancing, increased ventilation, frequent cleaning, and the use of personal protective equipment.

According to the report,

“[f]actors to consider before enacting any of the above measures should include similarities and differences between populations, unique considerations for vulnerable or high-risk groups, differences in culture and education needs, and the overall success of the communities at mitigating community transmission[.]”

That being said, more research is still needed to confirm the best course of action for reopening schools and daycare programs as questions pertaining to the degree of safety for children and adults with underlying health conditions, as well as the ease of transmission and the risks involved at the community level remain uncertain.

For more information on related topics visit the HSDL In Focus on Pandemics and Epidemics or view other resources included in the COVID-19 Resource Archive. Please note that an HSDL login is required to view some of these resources.

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