With the coronavirus on the cusp of spreading in the U.S., and uncertainty high in the nation, it makes sense to ask, what will happen to schools amidst the spread of this disease? The answer clearly is still a question mark, but we can review the facts of this rapidly unfolding story to see what issues educators and students might likely face.
Parents Prepare for Kids at Home
One likely scenario for parents of younger students, once infections reach schools, will be the closure of them. This is something parents should consider preparing for now, by locking place care, food and supplies, and potentially having resources to sustain the children at home for a prolonged period of time.
CDC Says to Prepare
According to the CDC Coronavirus Interim Guidance Report For U.S. Childcare Programs and K-12 Schools right now is all about preparation in case of an outbreak in the local community.
Prepare by having plans in place to deal with a variety of situations before they occur. Most notably to be, at this time, preventive-focused, by ensuring cleaning of the school environment, the washing of hands by everyone, the watching for symptoms of the virus, monitoring absentee roles, and so on.
School athletic contests are another hot button issue, with many schools considering or outright canceling sporting events where large groups gather.
Accurate Diagnostic Needed
Using The Flu as a Bellwether
Schools might already have some experience in handling a COVID-19 outbreak via the flu. According to a recent EdWeek piece, Students in Rensselaer Central Schools in Indiana dealt with a flu outbreak on the week of Jan. 20 that left more than 20 percent of the student body absent. Before health officials could request the school to shut down, the district closed Thursday and Friday. according to Curtis Craig, superintendent of schools.
This is the type of forward pre-emptive action that could save many students from infection if the disease did spread.
School May Just Be Out Altogether
In France over 120 schools have closed in the area where the largest number of infections have occurred.
In Hong Kong schools didn’t return after the Lunar New Year, and will be closed all the way to at least April 20th.
Japan recently announced every primary, middle, and high school in the country won’t return to school until mid-April.
In China, the most severe outbreak area, millions of students have been forced to stay home, and take classes online, or watch lessons through public TV.
It is likely that if the disease were to spread in a given area the schools of that region would shut down temporarily to assist in quarantine efforts, like we’ve recently seen with Washington school closures. Widespread infection could lead one to infer, like Japan, a coronavirus school closing on a larger regional or national scale.
Many colleges, over 100 and counting, have removed students from campus and assigned online learning for the rest of the semester.
Online School Would Officially Arrive
With the potential spread of the coronavirus online school would become the new normal for many students across the country. This would allow for students to continue their education during long quarantines to ensure the disease could be fully eradicated.
USA Today reports that Miami Dade already has a plan in place to send students home with a laptop and shift them to online classes.
Some professionals believe a vaccine could take a year or more to produce, leaving the possibility for online school to become the new normal for many students nationwide if the disease were to take hold.
What Does This Mean for School Recreation
What does this all mean for school recreation in a time when students are typically eager to beat the winter blues and get outside and play? Delayed gratification more than likely.
While there will be a period of worry as this issue plays out, when it does pass students will be more enthused than ever to be back together again on the playground. We for one can’t wait to see that day.
For more information on the coronavirus visit www.coronavirus.gov