Reopening Oregon's Schools
When will it be safe for students to return to school? What do health experts recommend? Should we put teachers lives at risk in order to allow parents to return to work? What are the long term health effects of the virus on children? Who should decide when it is safe for children return to school?
Parents want to know when kids can safely return to school. President Trump is pressuring schools to open even as coronavirus cases continue to rise in many states. He has threatened to fund school that do not open. By no means should decisions be made under threats of defunding schools and other political reasons. Sensible measures must be guided by health experts.
Oregon is in a better position than many, but the disease is by no means under control. Below is advice from Stanford University School of Medicine.
To eliminate the virus the CDC has stated that we must:
self quarantine as much as possible,
wash our hands often after going out or being around others,
physically distance ourselves from each other by at least six feet, and
wear a mask to prevent spreading the virus.
We must also keep our bodies healthy by eating good whole foods and exercising. This point has not been mentioned much, but keeping kids healthy and active is essential to fighting off this virus.
The key to reopening school is the elimination fo the virus. Senator Michael Dembrow has been diligent in providing constituents with daily COVID-19 updates, tracking new cases in each county. It would seem logical that some counties will have the virus under control sooner that others. So, instead of projecting a statewide reopening, it might make more sense to open schools county-by-county. Shown below is a screen shot of new cases for July 10, 2020. On this day, eight counties have no new cases with several having only one new case. We can get that number down to zero, It will take longer in some counties than others. Once the virus has disappeared and no new cases are posted for a period of 14 days, schools should be able to cautiously reopen. This is doable!
Schools must be ready with PPE for all students, thermometers for taking temperatures daily of all students and school personnel, and a tracking system should any new cases arise. Teachers should not be expected to man the classroom alone. At least one additional person in each classroom should become the new norm. If that can't happen by hiring more classroom assistants or engaging parent volunteers, schools are not ready to reopen.
We should also recognize that there will likely be recurrences in some places since no county is an island. Immediate lockdowns and continued tracking will be necessary until the virus is eradicated from our counties, states, and country.
New COVID-19 Cases -- July 19, 2020
Click on the chart for the latest update.