SAN DIEGO — It's still unknown how soon kindergarten through 12th grade students across California will be allowed to return to school. Some state officials have said an early start in July is possible, but how will schools know if they're ready?
"Teachers know how to adapt and be ready, but there needs to be a lot in place that currently isn't," said Claudia Briggs, spokesperson for the California Teachers Association.
Will schools ever be the same?
Briggs said it is going to take a massive overhaul to make education safe during a pandemic.
"They need personal protective equipment, they need masks, they need hand sanitizer, [and] they need help for social distancing and physical distancing,” Briggs said.
The CDC lists the highest risk for schools with full-sized, in-person classes, activities and events, where seats are not spaced and supplies are shared.
The moderate risk includes small, in-person classes and activities with the same teachers and classes with people at least six feet apart.
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Then, the lowest risk settings are virtual-only classes and events, where all interaction is online.
The CDC’s “Considerations for Schools” include staggered arrival and drop off times. Huge changes the CDC recommends are:
-no field trips, group or extracurricular activities
-close playgrounds, or regularly disinfect playground equipment.
As it pertains to school lunch, the CDC advises cafeterias close, and students eat in the classrooms, bring their own food, or be served individually-plated meals.
Guidelines recommend all teachers and students wear cloth face coverings, although it may be challenging for younger students.
The CDC said schools need to ensure ventilation systems operate properly and increase outdoor circulation, and it discourages drinking from water fountains.
Physical barriers are another safety guideline the CDC suggests should be in place, such as sneeze guards and partitions. These should be in areas difficult for individuals to remain at least six feet apart, like reception desks.
The CDC said guides need to be posted - such as tape on floors or sidewalks and signs on walls - to ensure that staff and students stay six feet apart in lines. The CDC also recommends making hallways one-way.
Briggs said all the many recommendations can't be achieved if the governor's budget cuts $19 billion from education.
“There is so much that needs to be done in order to make sure that our students return to school safely. If they don’t find a solution to this budget crisis, it could lead to layoffs of up to 57,000 educators throughout the state of California,” Briggs said.