Strategies such as increasing air ventilation, installing touchless technology, and modifying schedules to stagger arrival and departure times could help schools reopen more safely as the coronavirus pandemic continues, according to a new report published Wednesday.
Schools can also limit sharing of equipment in physical education classes and limit personal contact with strategies like taking parent-teacher conferences online, environmental safety expert Joseph Allen and colleagues at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health said in their report.
These should be put in place alongside known measures such as hand washing, mask use, widespread testing for the virus, and encouraging people to stay home when they are sick.
“No one control strategy alone can limit the transmission of disease,” the report reads. “Schools should approach reopening with a layered defense strategy, where many small interventions and strategies are combined, simultaneously.”
Allen said it’s better to send kids back to school than to keep them sequestered at home. He said online learning was missing many, if not most, students.
“Schools will eventually need to reopen,” the report says. “Keeping schools closed comes with massive, long-term individual and societal costs. Many children cannot effectively learn, grow, engage, socialize, be active, eat healthy food, or get supports until schools reopen.”