Proactive School Closings Can Stem Disease Spread But Causes Its Own Worries
As the corona virus spreads worldwide many countries including Japan and Italy have issued widespread school closures. Research shows that closing schools proactively can slow down spread of disease but here in the US. The question of whether to close schools is keeping leaders up at night. Npr's Corey Turner reports Nicholas. Kristaq says his Yale University lab has always been about studying one word. We study how germs spread. We study how ideas spread we study. How Behaviors Spread Chris? Dacas wrote the bestseller blueprint? The evolutionary origins of a good society and his lab is now studying how corona virus might spread. He says closing schools is one of the most effective things a community can do to slow it down and it's better. He says for school leaders not to wait until a student or staff member. Actually get sick. It's sort of closing the barn door after the cow is gone if you wait for the case to occur. Christoph is points to studies of the one thousand nine hundred nineteen Spanish flu. He says cities that were quick to close their schools. Then saved lives closing the schools before anyone in the schools. Zik is a very difficult thing to do. Even though it's probably extremely beneficial and much wiser school leaders say it's very difficult because so many kids get so much from their schools are a large number of our students. The safest place for them to be is actually in school. Sonia Santa Leases is the CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools and. She says if she has to cancel school. Many parents won't be able to take off work so children could be heading home to empty households and that's a worry all over the country. Yeah I think that's honestly the hardest contemplation for our districts. Chris Reykdal is Superintendent of Public Instruction for Washington State which has been hit hard by corona virus to send you know a million Washington kids home knowing that for hundreds of thousands of them are they simply will not have any parents at home. Not only. Won't there be parents at home. There might not be lunch either. Food Insecurity is a real challenge in our community even without an emergency. Alberto Carvalo has Miami Dade County public schools and he says roughly three quarters of his students live at or below the poverty line. These kids not only depend on schools for lunch. They also get free breakfast free snacks and many he says get free dinner. That's why Carvalo and school leaders all over the country are hustling to build meal plans in case schools have to close. Miami-dade is adapting. Its Hurricane Plan in Baltimore. Santa leases says schools often send kids home on the weekend with a special backpack full of food and maybe they could do something similar. She says in the event of a corona virus closer. That's only typically gets a family through a weekend so we have other ideas. Were just trying to see whether they will work in the current context. There's one more word that has school leaders scrambling right now. Equity See if schools have to close for a week or more school leaders. Want to be sure that learning doesn't entirely stop but schools have a legal obligation to make sure that whatever they do works for every child and that can be expensive. Chris Reykdal says some schools in Washington state are exploring online learning. And they're asking themselves. Does every child have a computer and Wi fi and access to staff if they have a disability. Those are paramount questions for our schools. And if they can't deliver that when they choose to jump to an online model. It's unlikely they're providing legal basis for an equitable education of all the district leaders. I spoke with only one Carvalo in Miami. Dade says he is confident. He has the tech resources to keep kids. Learning even if school is canceled enabled by a bond referendum that goes back to two thousand twelve We have acquired an excess of two hundred thousand personal devices. That's right two hundred thousand laptops tablets and smartphones. That kids can take with them. If schools close but many school leaders told me they may instead have to treat corona virus like long heavy snow meaning. They'll either try to make up the loss days this summer or simply have to write them off. Corey. Turner NPR news.