Re-opening schools and how to proceed safely

Local News

ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – As New York State continues reopening businesses and life finally getting to the “new normal” that the state leadership has discussed, the ongoing question has been how and if or when schools will be able to reopen. The Coronavirus Pandemic closed buildings back in March and virtual learning took over as the academic year came to a close. With continued federal pressure looming, the state has serious questions to consider on when and if to open schools again.

18 News spoke to the Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Arnot Health, Dr. Jeffery Gardner, to hear his thoughts on the reopening of schools. He said that the American Academy of Pediatrics endorses the reopening of schools in the Fall of 2020 and Dr. Gardner believes the risks are outweighed by the benefits of getting children back in school.

“It is going to be the responsibility of the parents to discuss this, age-appropriately with their children, what to look for and how to behave in school.” Said Dr. Gardner while discussing whether he would be comfortable or not sending his kids to school in this environment.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has released a very comprehensive set of guidelines regarding how schools could reopen in the fall safely which you can find here. Some provisions include keeping desks at least 3 feet apart since many schools do not have the room to do the social distancing 6 feet rule. Also, allow teachers to move between classrooms rather than moving the students as hallways in between classes become very crowded.

When asked about extracurricular activities such as sports, clubs, and marching band, Dr. Gardner said that it would be something that each school would have to work toward and the best approach would have to be distance between students. Specifically with marching band, Dr. Gardner mentioned how he could see some interesting and creative formations due to social distancing as well as continued disinfecting of instruments.

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