The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) has provided recommendations for preparing for schools to reopen. CHOP is one of the largest and oldest children’s hospitals in the world, and is the United States’ first hospital dedicated to the healthcare of children. It has been ranked as the best children’s hospital in the United States.
Here is a sampling of CHOP’s safety recommendations:
- Start the school year earlier in case the virus reemerges in the winter
- Reduce class sizes to 10 or 15 students to help with social distancing
- Hold classes in gyms, large multi-purpose rooms, or outdoors
- Open windows for ventilation
- Provide adults with protective face shields
- Create staggered schedules and have students attend in-person or online depending on the day of the week or cycle
- Conduct regular temperature checks and other types of symptom surveillance to help ensure that sick students stay home
A confounding factor is that officials involved will need to make decisions regarding how to reopen schools without having a clear understanding of how COVID-19 spreads in the school setting and how it affects children as well as adults. Further, although the recommendations made are largely designed to protect adults from contracting the coronavirus and to mitigate the spread of the disease, there is still uncertainty as to how children’s health may be affected as scientists scramble to understand a mysterious inflammatory syndrome linked to the coronavirus that appears to have resulted in serious illness and death to some school-aged children.
Most importantly, scientists believe that testing capacity is crucial, but the ability to create widespread testing could be compromised in parts of the state where medical infrastructure is less accessible.