How and when should schools reopen? COVID-19 task force discusses

A new advisory panel recently formed by the AASA, The School Superintendents Association tackled difficult questions during the first of many meetings
By: | May 6, 2020
K-12 leaders in a COVID-19 task force that was recently created by the AASA determined in its first meeting that the process of reopening schools should not occur until the summer or fall and that districts currently do not have enough funds to ensure student safety for when schools fizkes

Earlier this week, 25 education leaders part of a newly formed COVID-19 task force came to the conclusion that the process of reopening schools should not occur until the summer or fall and that districts do not possess the necessary funds to implement policies that would keep students safe in school.

The kickoff meeting was conducted by an advisory panel that the AASA, The School Superintendents Association established to provide solutions to the coronavirus crisis.

“The panel determined that everyone would have to practice social distancing when schools reopen, which suggests that schools would need to adopt a staggered schedule where a select number of students would be in the physical building at a certain time while the rest continued online learning,” says Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of the AASA, a professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the U.S.

The panel also concluded that schools need to conform to the guidelines from the CDC, White House and, in many instances, governors depending on state laws.

How should superintendents reopen schools?

When schools reopen, members discussed that staff and faculty may need to take temperatures of students before they can come into school, mandate the use of face masks and protective equipment, and clean each building at the end of every day. “These are all major expenses, but where is this money going to come from?” says Domenech.

The answer could be from a $200 billion fund, which the AASA and 11 other national education organizations requested that Congress provide in a recent letter to legislators.

Related: 7 questions schools will have to answer to reopen in fall 2020

Related: How schools may change forever when they reopen in fall 2020

Related: Online? In-person? How fall 2020 is taking shape for schools

“Districts are hard pressed because states are cutting the education budget, and the funds from the CARES act is just a drop in a bucket that’s hardly going to get anything done,” says Domenech.

Additionally, many students still don’t have web-enabled devices or internet access, and with remote learning likely to continue for an indefinite amount of time, schools need these extra funds to ensure online learning is accessible.

“You still can’t get away from the fact that keeping students safe is going to require money that schools don’t have,” says Domenech. “Luckily, we have sharp minds who are brainstorming these solutions in this new task force.”

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