Can Kids Go to School During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic?
Some schools have reopened for in-person
learning, while others are using a hybrid
mix of in-person and remote (online) learning. But parents and caregivers might
wonder whether it's safe to send their kids to school during the coronavirus
Parents have many things to consider — their needs around work, education,
the benefits of in-school learning; and their family's health and safety. Younger
children and kids with special
needs learn best in school. Middle school and high school students might be better
able to handle distance learning.
Here are some things to think about.
What Safety Steps Can Help?
Schools are more than a place for kids to learn. They're also safe places for children
to be while their parents are working, and they support kids' physical, mental, social,
and emotional health.
But they're safe only if they use safety measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus
at the school, and the local community has the spread of the virus under control.
Health experts, school officials, and teachers are all working hard to make sure
their schools are as safe as possible while open. To help prevent the spread of coronavirus,
schools limit class sizes, stagger schedules, or offer online (remote) learning.
Some use a hybrid of online and in-person learning. Schools with in-person learning
generally require kids and teachers to wear masks,
distancing, and take other precautions.
To find out if cases in your area are increasing, decreasing, or staying the same,
call your local health department or look on their website. You also can check your
local newspaper. Many news outlets regularly report this information by area or zip
Is My Child Likely to Get Sick With COVID-19 in School?
Kids are less likely to catch and spread the coronavirus than adults. Health experts
say that going to school with safeguards in place helps protect students and lowers
their chances of getting the virus. These include:
grouping the same students and teachers together throughout the school day
If healthy kids do get coronavirus, they are less likely than adults to have symptoms
or to get very sick. And, while worrisome to parents, the inflammatory
disorder called multisystem
inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) that some kids get after having coronavirus is rare.
What if My Child or Family Member Is in a High-Risk Group?
Some people are more likely to get very sick from coronavirus. This includes people
with health problems, such as asthma,
or a weak immune system,
and adults age 65 or older. Babies younger than 12 months old might get sicker from
coronavirus than older kids.
If your child has a health problem or lives with someone in a high-risk group,
weigh the risk of your child bringing germs
home from the classroom. Many families with high-risk members may opt for distance
learning. Your doctor can help you decide.
Is My Child's School Following All COVID-19 Safety Measures?
Find out what safety precautions your child's school is taking. Ask about:
Cleaning and disinfecting. Schools should follow advice from
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for cleaning and disinfecting
common areas. Surfaces that get touched a lot (such as bathroom handles and knobs,
keyboards, and doorknobs) should be cleaned as often as possible but at least daily.
Health screenings and monitoring. Schools may check kids for
symptoms of coronavirus each day. This can include temperature checks and symptom
surveys at home or in school. If someone gets sick, there should be a process for
isolating them, reporting exposures, and returning to school. Students, teachers,
or school staff should stay home if they are
sick. Kids should not go to school if they have had close contact with
someone with COVID-19.
Face coverings. All adults should wear masks
or cloth face coverings, as should middle school and high school students. Preschoolers
and elementary school-age kids — if they can keep from touching their faces
a lot — also should wear masks.
Hand washing. Students and staff should wash
their hands with soap and water well and often. They also can use hand sanitizer
if water is not available.
distancing (also called physical distancing). Adults and students should
stay 6 feet apart whenever possible. In the classroom, spacing desks 3–6 feet
apart and having students wear cloth face coverings will help prevent the spread of
Class or group size. Some schools may limit class sizes, place
students in cohorts, stagger schedules, or do a hybrid of online and in-person learning.
A cohort is a group of students and teachers who stay together throughout
the school day. Check with your school to find out their specific plans.
Other ways to lower risk. Schools across the country are figuring
out creative ways to reduce
the spread of germs. They might:
Hold classes and activities outside as much as possible.
Have teachers change rooms rather than kids.
Have meals in the classroom instead of the cafeteria.
Mark floors to show students where to stand and walk.
Have students ride the bus in assigned seats that are distanced apart.
Schools that follow these practices can lower the chances of COVID-19 spreading
among students and staff. But that doesn't mean infections can't still happen. In
case of an outbreak, schools should have a plan ready that includes full-time distance
learning at home.
What Else Should I Know?
The coronavirus pandemic continues to change, so it's important to be flexible.
Follow your school's decisions and be ready to make adjustments.
Knowing what to expect and how to keep your child safe will help you lower your
family's risk of coronavirus. You can find more information on how to return to school
safely on the CDC's