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July 29, 2020

Reopening K-12 Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Report From the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Author Affiliations
  • 1National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Washington, DC
  • 2Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle
  • 3Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle, Washington
  • 4Editor, JAMA Pediatrics
JAMA. Published online July 29, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.14745

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges to the nation’s kindergarten-grade 12 education system.1 The rush to respond to the pandemic led to closures of school buildings across the country, with little time to ensure continuity of instruction or to create a framework for deciding when and how to reopen schools. States and school districts are now grappling with the complex questions of whether and how to reopen school buildings in the context of rapidly changing patterns of community spread.

In response to the need for evidence-based guidance to support education decision makers, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened an expert committee to provide guidance on the reopening and safe operation of elementary and secondary schools for the 2020-2021 school year. The committee was asked to integrate the most up-to-date evidence from medicine and public health with evidence about what is best for children and youth in view of the political and practical realities in schools and communities. The committee’s report, Reopening K-12 Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Prioritizing Health, Equity, and Communities, provides a series of recommendations aimed at helping states and school districts determine both whether to open school buildings for in-person learning and, if so, how to reduce risk in the process of reopening.2 It also identifies areas of research that are urgently needed to allow educators and policy makers to make evidence-based decisions about reopening and about operating schools during a pandemic.

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    1 Comment for this article
    What?
    Dana Ludwig, MD | UCSF
    The world is going crazy, top-down! How can the National Academy of Sciences draw any equivalence between a child's life or parent's life vs missing a year of school? This is just like the premature reopening of businesses. And now they ask "how could we have been so stupid?" Before there was school there was human life. Without human life, school is irrelevant. A classroom with 20 kids is a super-spreader event waiting to happen.
    CONFLICT OF INTEREST: None Reported
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