Education

Data show schools can safely reopen if precautions taken

Posted January 26, 2021 11:20 p.m. EST
Updated January 27, 2021 11:14 a.m. EST

— On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made its case to reopen schools if they're able to enforce masks and social distancing measures. The study comes as thousands petition Gov. Roy Cooper to reopen schools in North Carolina.

"I think the whole problem during this pandemic is, if people follow what they’re supposed to do we can do a lot more and I think that simply applies to school," said Sam Hershey, a Wake parent.

Data from the CDC indicated that reopened classrooms don't have the the type of rapid spread found in congregate living facilities.

Dr. Danny Benjamin, a professor of pediatrics at Duke University, said he "absolutely" feels comfortable sending his own children back to school.

He said the key is to ensuring rules will be followed.

“The most important thing is to make sure that the school you’re in is offering face-to-face instruction, that they have detailed plans, that they have adherence to the mitigation strategies, that they can document adherence to the mitigation strategies and that they have transparency around reporting their infections," said Benjamin.

Experts said breakfast and lunch should be eaten outside and masks should only be removed while eating or drinking.

Many parents said they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get their children back in the building.

"My oldest is 17. She has friends she needs to interact with," said Johnston County parent Christina Hayes. "My second grader, she is constantly asking me, mommy, why can't I see my friends? Why can't I see my teacher? Why can I not be in the classroom? She tells me, mommy, I'll wear a mask, I'll do whatever they ask me to do and I don't have an answer for her."

Still, some parents said they don’t believe embracing safety precautions is enough to bring everyone back into the classroom.

"I don't think there's enough understanding of the need to follow guidelines. It's going to be impossible for the teachers and staff to enforce it," said Wake parent Jessica Gaddis.

Other parents said they'll do whatever it takes to help get their children back in front of a teacher.

“If I have to buy extra supplies sanitizing wipes or spray, whatever it takes to get my kids back in the classroom the Johnston County school board will get support of the parents," said Hayes.

President Joe Biden has pledged to help the majority of schools reopen within his first 100 days in office. His administration has proposed billions in relief to K-12 schools to help pay for mitigation efforts that the CDC recommends.

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