Reopening Schools: New Report from Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
We would like to call your attention to Schools for Health – Risk Reduction Strategies for Reopening Schools from Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Everyone involved in reopening schools this fall should see this new report.
It is by far the most authoritative, comprehensive, and eminently useful study to date on what to do to reduce risk and promote safety when opening schools in the midst of this pandemic. A well composed document, it is informed and thoughtful while telling in plain language exactly what should be done. Thus, it fills an important role, standing apart from an array of conflicting, limited, and sometimes watered-down guidelines put out by other agencies.
Cautioning that, … a risk reduction strategy is different from a goal of achieving zero cases. There is no such thing as ‘zero risk’, in anything we do, and certainly not during a pandemic, the report advises that risks can be minimized if schools follow strict control measures.
With knowledge that schools have limited resources, the report lays out everything school officials should know and do, clearly and simply, followed by some 50 pages of exhaustive backup and research sources.
The report is organized into five major parts:
• Healthy Classrooms
• Healthy Buildings
• Healthy Policies
• Healthy Schedules
• Healthy Activities
Each section contains specific, doable recommendations for school administrators to follow. These actions need to be implemented to mitigate risks, help keep schools open, and ultimately, save lives of teachers, staff, children and their family members. A thorough narrative following the recommendations explains the thinking and research behind them. The narrative provides school personnel with understandings required to weigh options and make critical decisions in school environments and communities with limited time, money, personnel, and other resources.
This report acknowledges that schools exist in community contexts and should act appropriately in view of conditions that may change during the year. Schools are advised to follow all of the recommendations in the report to the extent they can, given local health conditions and personnel and physical resources available.
As national, state, and local guidance on the reopening of schools evolves, and as more is learned about this virus, those concerned with the health and safety of children and adults in schools could do no better than obtain a copy of Schools for Health – Risk Reduction Strategies for Reopening Schools, read it, and adhere relentlessly to the specific recommendations made.
All school administrators should have a copy of this report.