HOUSTON – The new CDC guidelines on returning to school put a lot of importance on kids social distancing. That includes canceling any activities when distancing isn’t possible and configuring groups of students that always work together. so if one gets sick, only that group is monitored for symptoms and it shouldn’t require an entire campus to shut down.
We asked local schools how this might look at their campuses.
Buses and hallways
At KIPP Charter Schools, they say with the exception of siblings, kids won't sit next to each other on the bus. Staff will be ready to greet them and walk down hallways while staying two arms-length apart.
Desks are six feet apart in Aldine, with two students diagonally across from each other and sneeze guards to shield them.
Guards placed on desks are a good idea, according to Memorial Hermann infectious disease specialist Linda Yancey, MD.
“The information we have from different parts off the world, China and countries in that area of the world show that these do have an effect… so if we can put plexiglass guards in front of the kids then, yes, that will absolutely cut down on transmission,” she said.
In school cafeterias, seats may be marked off to demonstrate social distancing.
Grab-and-go meals might be the new norm so students aren’t standing in line for lunch.
Don’t underestimate your children
Michael Chang, MD, an infectious disease pediatrician with UT Physicians and UTHealth, says if you don’t think your kids can do this, you’re not giving them enough credit.
“Pointing out what three feet looks like, what six feet looks like at home so you can plant the seed in your child’s head to what this is going to look like,” Chang explained. “We maybe don’t give enough credit to the kids and we try to insulate them from things but I think if we explain to them a little bit what people are thinking, why they are thinking it and why schools are doing certain things, they’re much more likely to be able to comply.”
Utilize different spaces as classrooms
Teachers worry if all students return, distance will be too much of a challenge in packed classrooms.
However, HISD claims they’ll have ratios of only ten students for every teacher.
Other recommendations to keep kids distanced in schools include: utilizing larger spaces as classrooms (like gyms and auditoriums), having class outside sometimes and having one-way hallways when possible.
The state also allows any parents who feel uncomfortable with face-to-face learning to enroll for classes online.