Imagine, for a moment, American children returning to school this fall.
The school week looks vastly different, with most students attending school two or three days a week and doing the rest of their learning at home. At school, desks are spaced apart to discourage touching. Some classrooms extend into unused gymnasiums, libraries or art rooms – left vacant while schools put on hold activities that cram lots of children together.
Arrival, dismissal and recess happen on staggered schedules and through specific doors to promote physical distancing. Students eat lunch at their desks. Children learn with the same peers every day – or teachers move around while students stay put – to discourage mingling with new groups.
Teachers and other education staff at higher risk of contracting the virus continue to teach from home, while younger or healthier educators teach in-person.
Everyone washes their hands. A lot.
Frequently touched school surfaces get wiped down. A lot.
That outline of a potential school day was drawn from interviews with more than 20 education leaders determining what reopened schools might look like come fall. New guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention supports those plans and more: Teachers and older students should wear masks, especially when they have to interact in close quarters.