- Health experts are hopeful that schools will be able to reopen in the fall, but hundreds of children at daycare centers in Texas have been infected in recent weeks.
- If the coronavirus infection rate in the United States doesn’t drop significantly before the fall, sending kids to school might put their teachers and their parents at risk.
- Texas has reinstated safety measures to slow the spread of the virus in daycare centers.
In recent weeks, health experts have offered hope that schools will be able to reopen in the fall, allowing children to return to some sense of normalcy and giving parents the ability to go back to work. Of course, schools might not look like they did in February, as teachers and students are going to have to take precautions to avoid spreading the virus among themselves and bringing it home to their families. But if the infection rate in the fall looks anything like it does this summer, our ability to reopen schools in the US will be at risk, as Texas seems determined to prove.
According to The Texas Tribune, over 300 children have tested positive for COVID-19 at Texas child care centers. As of Tuesday, June 30th, there have been 950 confirmed coronavirus cases at 668 daycares — 307 children and 643 staff members. This is up from 59 cases in May and 576 cases just over a week ago on June 23rd.
As the Tribune notes, the American Academy of Pediatrics guidance suggests that students should be “physically present in school” during the coming school year, as the educational and developmental risks of continuing to keep kids home outweigh the potential health risks. The academy also recommends at least three feet of social distancing between students, explaining that “the relative impact of physical distancing among children is likely small based on current evidence and certainly difficult to implement.”
However, the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is more strict, stating that every child care center should keep kids at least six feet apart and to send students or staff members home for two to five days when they test positive for COVID-19 so that public health officials can determine the next steps to take.
Due to the rising number of cases, among children and staff at child care centers, Texas reinstated safety measures that were repealed last month, including checking temperatures and banning family-style meals.
“Providers are required to follow state Minimum Standards to ensure the health and safety of children in care,” Texas Health and Human Services Commission spokesperson Danielle Pestrikoff said in an email, according to the Tribune. “HHSC has enacted emergency rules and they require operations to implement screening procedures that align with the CDC’s most recent guidance. We continue to advise child care operations to follow the guidance of the CDC and those laid out in Governor Abbott’s Open Texas Checklist.”