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How schools can keep students safe and healthy when they return

Posted at 12:38 PM, May 21, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — While we don’t know when for sure, kids will eventually go back to school in Kentucky. However, when that happens, it’s going to be a new environment.

Over the last couple of months, the classroom was replaced by a computer in a home. Even when kids get back to those familiar school walls, it won’t be quite the same for them or staff. For starters, keeping everyone physically healthy will be even more important.

“Schools have to be ready to clean and sanitize areas,” said Dr. Scottie Day, a physician-in-chief at Kentucky Children’s Hospital. “How do you screen and monitor? How do you test students? How do you limit student interactions? How do you deal with staff and protect the staff in those schools?”

Dr. Day also says schools should emphasize physical activity and nutritious meals for kids who may not have had access to those during the pandemic.

It’s not just about physical health though. Between the extended time away from school and the changes they’ll face when they return, kids may develop stress or anxiety, which can affect their academic performance and overall well-being. Knowing the signs and handling them is where teachers and family can come together for the student.

“We’ll hear our teachers say how key it is for the parents or guardians to really have a partnership in that. I think it will never be as important as it’s going to be in this coming year for that partnership and that learning to be greater,” said Dr. Day.

Overall, it’s about finding that balance between health and proper learning.

“Not to say that it’s not possible, but it’s just going to look different,” said Dr. Day.

Dr. Day says to also think about the well-being of teachers and staff, who are facing the same uncertainty.