(CNN)As states around the country begin to open with different guidelines on how and when schools will restart, parents and school workers are asking many questions about what the future of education will look like. Although each scenario will be different, depending on the type of school and state protocols in place, CNN reached out to experts to answer some of the questions viewers sent in.
Will students have to wear masks for the entire school day and other education questions, answered
Paula Herbart is president of the Michigan Education Association, a teachers union representing more than 120,000 teachers, student members and education support professionals throughout the state.
University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins is also a cardiac surgeon. He's aiming to bring the majority of his 44,000-students back to Tuscon on August 24 but with extensive public health measures, including extensive testing and contact tracing. Although he acknowledges that students participating in any type of testing, or mask wearing, will be voluntary.
Read below for their full answers to your questions.
Would students be required to wear masks for the entire school day, even if class numbers are reduced?
Herbart: "Yes. I believe that's important. I'm not so worried about student to student contact. I'm very worried about student educator contact. Children we know are less susceptible, it seems to be, through all the data from scientists, that adults are not."
She tells CNN that education is going to look very different. "We're going to have to wear protective masks, we may have to wear plastic gloves, we may have to wash. Learning will not be the same as it was prior to March 1. It just won't be, and we can't expect it to be."
She cautions that parents and school workers will need to be flexible in combining both distance and face to face learning and that communities and legislators will need to provide the necessary support to make that happen.
Robbins says he will highly encourage mask wearing at the university, and plans to wear one himself, but can't mandate students wear masks at all times. "The classroom is under the control of the professor," he says.
"We pretty much think that that will be sort of, at the, the professor's discretion and would be more mandatory if you will, that if you're inside our buildings you need to cover your face. And then for the open spaces, it's going to be more difficult to enforce. But that, that's sort of our current thinking."
Robbins recently appointed Dr. Richard Carmona, the 17th US surgeon general, to lead the university's re-entry task force. Together they are looking at robust safety measures and guidelines they can issue before welcoming students back.
How do we manage school bathrooms in middle and high schools where teachers and staff are generally not monitoring students in that space?
Herbart proposes sending kids to the bathroom one at a time. "One way we could do it is put X's on the hallway tapes, 6 feet apart, and one by one go into the restroom. Many elementary schools have bathrooms in classrooms so they've always had a one-on-one experience, but one of the things we're going to do as educators is teach children how to socially distance before we can teach them anything about academics."
She says you should expect lessons on day one about how you wash your hands, how you wear a mask, what a communicable disease is and what Covid-19 means.
How can we control and protect kids during recess or gym?
Herbart: "I'm not certain that recess time will be traditional as to how we used to do it. I think that it will be at the teacher's discretion that she takes her 10 or 12 students that she has in her classroom, goes outside for five or 10 minutes and you know, assigns students equipment or whatever. It's all very nebulous right now at best."
Will universities suspend in campus living in the fall semester?
The University of Arizona is not planning on suspending in campus living but they will reduce the capacity. Robbins tells CNN they initially planned on single occupancy dorm rooms that would give them capacity for 4,500 students, "but we heard from our students that many of them would prefer a roommate," so they're looking into it.
He adds that the majority of their students live off campus, in an "unregulated, uncontrolled environment," that they need to take into account as those students will be coming to and from the school grounds.
What is stopping college students interacting in close contact outside of class?
Robbins: Nothing. "College students just like everybody else, they have some mission creep and lack of discipline. And so this is a great opportunity for us to educate them and say, this is not so much about protecting yourself except it's about protecting society and others, particularly the high risk individuals and you don't know who those are."
How do we protect older professors on campuses that will have in-person classes? And younger teachers who may be care-givers taking care of older parents at home?
Herbart: "We've done preliminary survey results and I can tell you that educators are not concerned about themselves, they're concerned about taking it home to their family, they're concerned about their students getting it and giving it to their families." She explains how one university is setting up clear dividers in lecture halls, like the ones that shield grocery workers, and says that could be an option, as educators will "always want to roam the class to see how student work is going."
Robbins: "We're going to build in appropriate social distancing in all classrooms and activities. We're going to have educational programs to encourage vigorous hand-washing, social distancing, face covers, tracing. And then for those who are positive to be able to isolate and treat them in a quarantine environment."
Will teachers get the option to work from home if they feel unsafe?
Herbart: "We may have teachers who are doing face to face, with stronger immune systems and better situations, and teachers who are supporting the distance learning that have compromised situations. I don't think that's an unreasonable thing to consider and I think it allows both educators to have and fulfill their obligations... we can't let one educator go to waste right now."
Robbins: "A hundred percent. We'll have a flexible policy. If they don't feel safe enough, they can teach their class by Zoom. Now it may be that they have 20 students who want the in class experience and there may be, you know, a large screen with the professor giving a lecture, remotely, but there would be proctors or TAs to facilitate class discussion and the in person experience. Everyone has a choice here. We're allowing flexibility and they get to decide the risk reward in every individual one at a time."
Will students be tested before classes start? Are households with school age kids going to be periodically tested?
Herbart: "I don't think it's realistic to test every student... But I do think it's realistic to test every adult who's encountering students, since we know that they're at higher risk."
Robbins has a robust three-T plan, "to test, trace and treat."
"The testing we're going to offer, it's not mandatory. We're going to offer it to volunteers who want to be tested and we feel very confident that we'll be able to offer the antibody test to everyone, all faculty, students, staff."
Their contact tracing will involve a mixture of in-person contact tracing and an app, but administered on a voluntary basis. Robbins says his biggest concern is sick patients or asymptomatic patients refusing to get tested or cooperate in contact tracing efforts but, "I think because of privacy we can't mandate it."
"We hope that there'll be a big shift in culture that we will all do this as good, global citizens and for the betterment of society."
Should school nurses be responsible to check temperatures daily and even administer Covid tests? If nurses will be responsible for sick patients or screening patients, do you need to hire more nurses and have isolation rooms?
Herbart: "In Michigan, anecdotally, I can tell you that we don't even have one school nurse for every school district in some of our areas." She says that has to change. "If we're going to return to buildings, there has to be a plan and procedure in place that there is somebody from the medical profession who is assessing students in a way that makes reasonable sense for a learning environment." In addition to isolation rooms, the whole infrastructure of schools needs to be given more attention, she says, including ventilation systems.
Robbins doesn't anticipate the University of Arizona having to hire many additional health care workers, only staff to help with contact tracing efforts. "We've got great public health students who are eager to do this. We've got medical students, nursing students, pharmacy students. So we feel pretty confident that we can at least make a good effort to put maximal protection. But again, not going to be risk-free."
It's great to talk about smaller classes to social distance but where are all the extra teachers coming from? And the payroll? Where will the money come from to make any social distancing refurbishments or adjustments?
Herbart acknowledges that funding is key, both for personnel and PPE. She points to the Heroes Act, currently awaiting a Senate vote, as an option that would help.
"We've done a lot of bailing out of huge corporations, airlines and other businesses. If we can't ensure that our children and our educators are safe in schools and provide funding for that, I don't know what kind of a country we are anymore."
She says states will have to realign their budgets and reprioritize. "In Michigan we have huge tax credits for large corporations. If we're talking about true shared sacrifice, we have to go to the businesses community and say we need the tax dollars, not all of the tax dollars, but some of your tax dollars, to help provide and fill the gap for public education and our children. And this is a crisis. This is not situation normal. This is a national crisis."
In terms of additional teaching staff, Herbart suggests enrolling student-teachers where there is a need. "We did that with physicians, we did that with nurses when we needed them in the crisis, now is the crisis for public education."
Robbins is also hoping for extra funds. "We're unfortunately in a state that doesn't support higher education as well as some other states. Our donors have really stepped up and been helping us with these types of programs."
"We'll try to get as much funding as we possibly can because this will be expensive for us. But at the end we think it's our duty," he adds.
What's going to happen to school lunches in a Covid-19 world?
Herbart is adamant that cafeterias will be closed. School lunches can be made available for those that need them but there will be no communal cafeteria settings. She explains that a regular school day will be a thing of the past, replaced by a split shift scenario of in person learning mixed in with distance learning. "There could be a spot outside of school before students enter where they get their bag lunch. We won't be eating communally at cafeterias. You'll be eating your lunch either in your classroom or you'll be going to school for four hours, picking up your lunch and going back on the bus to go home. Or you're re-entering for p.m classes, getting your lunch coming in, and then going to school."
Regarding cafeteria workers, she proposes retraining them since they are already factored into the school budget. "Should they be out of jobs? No. But could they be trained to become pair educators and support personnel? Yes, they could. So we're going to have to think about what it means to re-educate and retrain some of our support staff to do a central functions that will needed to be done. Maybe there'll be custodial maintenance workers to ensure the cleanliness of classrooms and buses."
Robbins: "We will have our union open with food courts, but we'll do it just like restaurants are doing, properly socially distance seating and people having to wear masks when they go into the restaurant."