School Opening Variances Are a Civil Rights Issue

by James C. Sherlock

I want to offer my thanks to those that have written here that they don’t want any Virginia schools to open this fall. (The terms open and closed in this essay will refer to in-person instruction.)

That provides clarity.

All will agree that in-person instruction is superior to remote instruction for primary and secondary students  I know of no study that contends otherwise.

Now comes the debate.

I am joined by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in contending it is unwise and unfair that some schools will remain closed.

Others contend that it is unwise and unfair that some of them will open. They cite statistics that they apparently think the AAP missed.

A very polarized disagreement.

My opponents’ recommendation in this debate to keep schools closed can be pitched as a health issue and a civil rights issue. So can my position and that of the AAP to open them.

Let’s leave the children’s health- – the total picture of children’s health — to the pediatricians for a moment and move to the civil rights issue.

Separate and unequal schools have been banned by the federal government since 1954. There is no question that public school children will be getting an unequal education among school districts with different standards for opening.

I am sure that all agree that it is unfair and certainly unequal that some public schools remain closed while private schools and other public schools in the state open.

It appears that it is Virginia’s urban districts that are more likely to remain closed while suburban and rural districts open. Ouch.

The critical theorists in VDOE and some of the ed schools can reasonably jump in on either side of the argument, though from their written “scholarship” the needs of students appear not to have crossed their minds in a generation.

Opponents of in-person instruction, however, will have to thread an eyeless needle to make the case that poor students are better off with the schools closed.

Even the Southern Poverty Law Center will oppose that premise. It promotes the teaching of antiracism and and social justice in the schools “through the four domains of identity, diversity, justice and action”.

Hard to do that when students are isolated at home and there is nobody to whom kindergarteners can confess their sins and those of their parents.

Open the schools anyway.

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69 responses to “School Opening Variances Are a Civil Rights Issue

  1. This may well end up like the states that re-opened early because some folks won’t be convinced until we do it then see the consequences.

    It’s kind of an ignorant approach to anything – but it seems to be where we are these days. If we don’t know for sure – do it – and if it blows up – oh well…

    And truth be known if you believe the polls – most teachers want to return to in-person.

    There is a lot of disapproval to the “hybrid” approach but I think we are not seeing the silver lining – which is – if the schools open up “partially” and nothing bad happens – more teachers and more students will likely be allowed – an incremental approach vice do or die. If that’s what it takes to get more schools to reopen to more in-person – it’s sure better than the current back and forth going on.

    • Schools that are using a hybrid approach are doing so because of the social distancing rules they have been given for schools and buses, not because they have made some decision that it’s safer. If a kid can get infected in school, it doesn’t matter whether he or she goes one day a week or 5.

      The pediatricians say getting the kids back in school full time is, net of the risks to their total health, less risky than keeping them home.

      I trust them more than the epidemiologists, who by profession are one-trick ponies.

      • Geeze Jim – are social distancing rules to achieve safety?

        The pediatricians basically don’t care about how to achieve what they advocate – Any fool can agree with their sentiment – but that doesn’t do the things that have to be done to make it happen – safely.

        How helpful is it for anyone to say “open back up no matter what”?

        You trust that? Come on, guy. What they are saying is dumb.

        Everyone wants to open back up – but you can’t snap your fingers to do it.

        All the pediatricians are really saying is that in-person is better.

        Well hoop-de-do.

        Do they weigh in on how that happens?

        You guys are better than this Jim… you KNOW this is not just about people who refuse to open..

        we went through this with businesses and look at what has happened in states like Texas… they did not believe the science. They insisted on re-opening no matter what – and now look.

        youse guys … I don’t know… “open up no matter what”…. lord.

        • Larry: Aren’t you the “science and professionals” guy? Why don’t you believe/trust the AAP folks when they say that kids should be in school this fall? Why don’t you trust the data that says children are extremely unlikely to contract COVID and if they do the effects are going to be nominal? Why do you trust “maskings”, but apparently not enough for adequate protection of teachers? They seem to be OK for other essential workers, though, along with everyone who shops at Walmart and Lowes. Come to think of it, all those kids I keep seeing in Walmart seem to be OK as well.

          Not sure which polls your talking about as far as teachers wanting to return in person, but at least we know that “nearly one out of every three” in Fairfax public schools certainly don’t want to be back in class.

          • If AAP provided the “how” I would believe them but at this point it’s a statement of belief without substantial scientific foundation for the congregate setting – just the kids.

            Kids may not be as susceptible but what we do not know yet is congregate sites – schools – work if they do not have enough space to accommodate social distancing for the entire student body at one time.

            How can you cut the class size in half and still have all kids coming to school?

            Who is addressing this issue – not the AAP folks.

            Are you saying the kids should not have to socially distance and that they can all come and be in the classrooms as before?

            Is “science” saying that?

            Can you just tell teachers what you believe and expect them to take it as fact?

        • Larry, you are dead wrong about the pediatricians “The pediatricians basically don’t care about how to achieve what they advocate” and I am disappointed in you. It is not your style.

          I have provided the link before.

          Please read it. The pediatricians are very specific about their guidance.

          • Jim – you are correct about the guidance but you may have misinterpreted what I was saying – or perhaps I was not clear enough.

            they DO have the guidance, but HOW can the schools do this with the spaces they currently have and all the guidance which basically requires more space, more hours, and more staff?

            If order to open back up for all – they’d need to get mobile classrooms and more staff as well as more school buses, etc.

            So the AAP advocates that it’s imperative to “open back up because it’s best for kids” but they have not actually said that more space, more staff and more buses will be needed much less call for increased funding to do it.

            agree now?

            they’re essentially parroting the “open up now, we don’t care how you do it” crowd.

          • If the “open up now we don’t care how you do it” folks were actually ragging on the Federal govt instead, to provide the funds that schools need to add space and staff , buses, increased testing, etc – it would be a different dynamic – they would be perceived as SUPPORTING the schools and education instead of condemning them and the onus would be on the Feds to take responsibility for helping the schools to be able to re-open.

            Instead – they’re being put in an almost impossible position of somehow figuring out how to re-open for all in-person.

            This is how we divide ourselves and you know who is the divider in chief on this.

  2. Death — the last civil right. Or, is that the civil last rite?

    • Freedom from death (or disease) – the latest thing that government promises, but has absolutely no ability to deliver….

      Per CDC, at most 10% of the 1.2 million death certificates it has received since this started mention COVID as a primary or secondary cause of death, and almost never is it the sole cause. Government is going to protect me from the things that killed the other 90%, right? No? But it’s their job! Schools will now close every winter for flu season, right? Nothing new about teachers catching flu from kids….in that case, kids are highly infectious, whereas not so much with Sars COV2.

      • If he had thought of these things, I’m sure FDR would have included them in his Second Bill of Rights.

      • You left out the word “needless”, and on that, they should be able to improve.

        • Please, call me when the powers that be ban cigarettes, sugar-laden drinks and 1,200 calorie burger stacks. We have met the enemy and it is us. That would save lots of “needless” deaths, including most being pushed over the edge by COVID.

          Being a teacher has always been a hazardous job; most catch every bug in their classrooms the first few years. I got news for you, tens of thousands will never do anything but teach remotely from now on. This has changed the classroom permanently. Just watch.

          • But banning those things would violate my right to freedom from want! 🙂

          • I think you’re totally wrong.

            Teachers WANT to return – 2/3 and some polls 4/5 but they are not stupid… remember they did educate you and me!

            but they are not going to be coerced by num-nuts… cuz , yeah
            they are, in fact, “educated” and most believe in science.

          • Nancy_Naive

            Well, at least the 25% of teachers in the high risk age groups won’t die intestate, Wills are popular with them now.

            Hey, you keep tracking those death certificates. Next year, see if you can tell us how many of the “recovered” crap out from conditions caused by the invasion of the virus in all of the other organs.

            Admittedly, I don’t know squat about this virus, but here’s the best part, you don’t either. It took 60 years to determine that shingles is the same virus as chicken pox. Wonder if and what wonderful condition little Suzy and Jonny are just waitng to develop in 2045 because people who thought this was overblown insisted they go to school.

            Plus, look at what happened in Israeli schools, and they were much better off than we.

            “I’m not going to eat it. Let Mikey try it.” Not just a cereal ad, it’s a good idea!

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            Steve Haner says:
            “Nothing new about teachers catching flu from kids….in that case, kids are highly infectious, whereas not so much with Sars COV2.”

            On national TV a week ago, under questioning, Dr. Deborah Birx said there was NO definitive evidence the kids under 16 transmit Covid – 19 to adults, but she wanted to study issue more. And we know that the risk to children posed by Covid – 19 is not zero, but it “extremely small.” While the harm to children from closed schools is extremely large.

            For context see this article from American Council on Health and Science:


            The problem here is not public safety. The problem is fear mongering, and special interest politics, overriding sound public policies that are essential for the education of our children and for their emotional health and well being, that of their families, their parents, and the economy.

          • Nancy_Naive

            “cigarettes, sugar-laden drinks and 1,200 calorie burger stacks.”

            All of which I can CHOOSE not to ingest. Another distinction you have failed to make… hence NOT suicide.

      • yeah – I think you left out the word “needless”.

        and the point with respect to teachers:

        when millions of them have the same concerns – one can characterize it as some kind of “union thing” or they can just dismiss their concerns out of hand – and they do – but it’s kind of not smart to tell that many people that they are conspiring or overreacting ,etc.

        I have to say – I consider teachers fairly intelligent compared to some groups… and yeah I put credence in their concerns….

        and yeah… most of us got “educated” by them even as we now condemn them…..

        lord lord

        • What about the majority, who are not raising a fuss over reopening the schools? Why do you trivialize their lack of concern?

          • I think it varies by region. The word in Fairfax County was that 70% of the teachers in the three teachers’ unions were concerned about teaching in-person.

          • dj-

            Point taken. I should have used the word “fear” instead of “concern”

          • re: the majority. As DJ relates – the percentage varies a lot and I’m not yet convinced the polling is solid for all teachers.

            The thing is – most schools cannot re-open if 1/3 of their teachers are not there.

            You can’t just move teachers around. A 1st grade teacher is not gong to easily convert to a 6th grade teacher.

            You’re going to have gaping holes in some schools.

            You cannot ignore and disregard a significant number of workers even if they are not the majority.

            And again, I’m not yet buying that 2/3 are strongly in favor of returning…

            The people who want teachers to return – really don’t care if it is safe or not – they are really no different than those who wanted businesses to re-open no matter what… as if the virus was a hoax and really would not affect younger people.

            Tell that to Texas right now ……… they re-opened because of pressure from those that insisted – and what has happened?

            The schools are no different. If they get forced to open – and virus spreads – all those folks who advocated are going to disappear into the woodwork.

        • I bet a lot more people are supportive of reopening than not. It’s kind of not smart to tell that many people that they are conspiring or overreacting, etc. Oh wait, TEACHERS are kind of intelligent compared to some groups. Guess those groups that don’t have that BS and Master’s really just need to shut up and do what their betters tell them.

      • Amen, Steve. People will literally give up everything to the government if they think it will guarantee their safety, which it won’t as you so capably noted. Well, they’ll give up everything for a government safety guarantee and a nice monthly check to tide them over.

      • James Wyatt Whitehead V

        Mr. Haner one of the things I am going to miss about retiring from teaching high school US History is my near bullet proof immunity. Each year for 27 years I was exposed to every form of “creeping crud” ever conceived. Usually in September or October I would experience some illness. Being old school I would gut it out. Something usually would strike me again in Feburary or March. Again I gutted it out. I retired with 795 hours of sick leave. Other than that I was perfectly healthy all year. Now that I am not exposed to every illness kids carry I wonder, will my streak continue?

  3. A few clarifications.

    1. Comparing teaching to firefighters vis-a-vis COVID-19 is unfair. If firefighters could put out fires over the internet I’m sure that’s what they would be doing.

    2. Private schools are more likely to reopen in full for several reasons. First, they usually have much larger campuses and lower student – teacher rations making social distancing easier to achieve. They also charge a heathy fee for schooling which many parents just wouldn’t pay for video teaching so they’re financially motivated.

    3. In every conversation I’ve had with students, teachers and administrators distance learning at the middle and high school level has been a failure. The rough and informal consensus that I am hearing is that distance learning at the K-12 level is about 25% effective. Not a 25% drop-off, a 75% drop-off.

    4. Distance learning can be considerably more effective but it has to be more than transmitting the teacher into the home via video over the internet. The lectures should be broken up with short quizzes to keep the students focused and to assess the actual learning that is occurring. If there are two math teachers in a grad one should conduct lectures and the other should be a roving tutor to the students who are struggling with the ongoing mini-quizzes. As far as I can see, the giant bloated administrative layer that has been built up over the years in public K-12 has done nothing to make distance learning more effective.

    5. Buses will be a problem. Even if you can achieve social distancing in the school you can’t do that on most buses. One answer would be to stagger the hours and run less full buses over longer periods of time. However, absent some serious protective measures I imagine almost every bus driver will get COVID-19 over a period of 9 months.

    I’m waiting to see if Northam closes all schools (public and private) based on “equity” issues. Given his willingness to misrepresent I’m sure he’ll present it as a part public health part “equity” issue.

    Even if the hybrid model is adopted along with some private (and perhaps rural) schools opening full time the issue will be revisited when the first outbreak among children occurs. Or, sadly, when the first teacher gets sick and dies. In person teaching (whether hybrid or full time) might be a short-lived operation in Virginia.

    • DJ – I agree with your comments. However, the bus think continues to intrigue me. I do consulting work, mostly from my home office, but I still have to periodically fly to client sites. I’m flying on airplanes packed full with all seats occupied (150 passengers or so), but our kids can’t even half-fill a school bus that has windows that can be opened so fresh air circulates and you can’t put a fiberglass shield around the driver like every grocery store has done for their checkers? Did we shut down Walmart when their first employee died of the virus?

      • Can you explain why your Courthouse is closed or your elected are meeting virtually ? Are they as bad as the teachers?

        • They are all employed by government monopolies. In Virginia, if you don’t like your public school (and you’re not wealthy enough to afford private school) you can pound sand. Virginia needs vouchers and charter schools to provide some level of competition. Until that happens employees of education monopolies will always look after themselves first and the children second.

          • Vouchers and charter schools that don’t help the disadvantaged and end up being subsidies for the higher income folks is not a solution.

            All you’d be doing is actually making the situation even worse.

            I support vouchers and charter schools done so they actually work.

            That means the vouchers are means-tested and that every child that needs that alternative can get it – and that those schools meet transparency and accountability for academic standards and performance

            You can gather a lot of support from folks who are not Conservatives if you truly want to do vouchers/charters “right” but as long as it walks and talks like a trojan horse – no dice.

        • My courthouse is open and I just attended a Council meeting last week.

  4. “The thing is – most schools cannot re-open if 1/3 of their teachers are not there.”

    Why not? You can film a teacher at home and broadcast the video into a school classroom. Instead of a live teacher in front of the room there’s a TV monitor that shows Mrs Crabapple along with a camera so Mrs Crabapple can see the class.

    • because believe it or not – teaching has different skill sets depending on the grade and the subject.

      Anyone who thinks teachers are like widgets that can be swapped in and out – needs to go back to school themselves.

      A teacher that specializes in learning disabilities in 2nd grade is not going to teach 6th grade math…. or vice versa… it don’t work that way.

      And no – they don’t do it remotely either…

      What kind of work did you do? Did all the employees have the same job description? 😉

      you know we’re in trouble when the know-nothings are telling teachers how to do their job.

      • You are missing the point. If Mrs Crabapple teaches 7th grade math at James Woods Middle School and decides she can’t stand the risk of in-person teaching why doesn’t she video herself at home and bring the video into the classroom where the kids who physically attend school are sitting? She is still teaching 7th grade math at James Woods Elementary School to the same students she would have taught had she been there in person.

        • He/she can but I thought youse guys were saying that is no good. No?

          Or perhaps you are evolving on this?

          • The kids need to be in class with however many teachers who are willing to be physically present. Those teachers with legitimate concerns should be allowed to teach from afar. Any parents who want their children to stay home should keep them at home.

  5. JimS, I like the way you approach this. On balance, as those “justice warriors” pressing for racial equity would have to concede, you are making the point that by their own logic the resulting racial impact of opening the schools only in part would be harmful — even given the greater spread of covid resulting from opening urban-area schools where the covid risk would be higher. That is to say, those who would oppose such opening are imposing racially-differentiated harm.

    To your practical concerns about depriving these students of in-classroom teaching, I believe we should also acknowledge the peculiarly inadequate alternative of home-schooling or remote teaching for these same students. That is because these are the very students whose parents are under the greatest stress to leave home to work, and who don’t have the on-line access at home necessary to make on-line instruction work.

    As a practical matter these kids live in “wi-fi deserts” where broadband by cable or by wireless cell connection is basically unaffordable. What use is a brand-new laptop to a secondary school kid who is isolated at home for his health but has no internet access at home? And there is less likely to be a parent at home to provide any other sort of home-schooling.

    It makes more sense to send that kid to school and deal with the consequences than to assume he will get an education at home.

    • The alternative of closing all secondary schools is false ‘equity.’ As DJR correctly observes, “I’m waiting to see if Northam closes all schools (public and private) based on “equity” issues. Given his willingness to misrepresent I’m sure he’ll present it as a part public health part “equity” issue.” But at least those private school kids (and rural public schoolers also) stand a better chance of receiving on-line instruction, however inadequate a substitute it may be, and/or home schooling, than the poor urban kids we are talking about here.

  6. once more.

    laptops can be pre-loaded with education software and lessons and the software can do testing, grading, and come back with follow-on lessons in the areas where the kid fell down.

    Once a week or every few days – you do need to take that laptop back to a wi-fi place and upload the completed work and download new lessons.

    What a lot of counties could do is set up community centers with internet and tutors. When you take the laptop to have it refreshed – you can have a session with the tutor – to answer questions and similar.

    The bigger point is – we cannot do what we were doing before – no matter how many insist we can.

    We MUST adjust and adapt. That means innovation and creativity.

    We used to think that was our strong suite in the US.

    Now, we say we can’t do nothing…except what we did before.

    Stupid is as stupid does.

    • Save your breath. The lemmings are in sight of the cliffs and there’s no stopping them now. Schools will open, and my dollar to a dime, beclosed by November.

      • My 14 year old son (who desperately wants to go back to in-person attendance) made exactly the same point. One outbreak among children at an elementary school (I think the latest “science” says kids can get COVID-19) or one teacher on a ventilator and the party is over, probably for the year.

        • The party is not over if they have safety protocols in place, testing, and it is not an outbreak affecting several teachers.

          Who has the teachers back if things go sideways?

          Right now – it’s “get your ass back in school and if a few of you die, too bad”….

          need more than that..

        • Here, Don, are your detailed statistics on Covid -19 risks posed to children, including comparisons to other sorts of risks posed to Children.

          For context, see this article from American Council on Health and Science. Article does not discuss the risk of kids passing on Covid – 19 to adults which also is quite low, indeed not yet even established a fact.

          • Interesting, especially the high end of the range being 24. Sounds like it is time to “draft” all the students in Ed schools across the state to take a paid year off to work as in-school tutors to augment the teachers who can’t or won’t physically come into the schools.

        • Of course kids can get it. They had a kid die of it this week, and contrary to Kerry’s anecdote of the French kid and his ski weekend, they can transmit the disease. Studies will eventually prove this. There’s a lot we don’t know.

          • yeah, but what we don’t know – automatically means we can presume what we want to believe…. no problems…

            besides, you can’t trust science any more anyhow – much better to listen to folks with degrees in economics or psychology….

          • Or journalism, especially journalism.

            They could use this site’s columns as scripts for a sitcom. Call it The Show About Nothing, or The Whiny White Boy Show.

  7. I think we need to relook at this all-or-nothing approach to school openings. If the question is do all schools in the state open or they all remain closed, then I think by default the answer will be that they will all remain closed. To allow localities to make this decision based on local conditions, including various hybrid models and innovative methods is to me the most logical approach. One problem is that some School Boards are making those decisions behind closed doors, shutting out input from citizens.
    I see the same all-or-nothing mentality even for school closings for weather. Most school districts will close down the entire district because some schools experience hazardous road conditions that other schools do not. School Districts do not currently have the options to make up missed snow days through distance learning. If we learn anything from the current crisis, it should be how to integrate distance learning into the regular curriculum for things like excess snow days and for extended student illnesses.

  8. These are very interesting comments. Notice how few of them, and none by the liberals, focus on the key point in the piece, which is that poor kids are the ones getting screwed the most by remote learning.

    Fascinating to see liberals throw poor children to the wolves over this issue. They will return to the issue with a vengeance – after the pandemic. They are deferring to their public unions base instead of looking out for the poor.

    This is a repeat of the failure of the health enterprise zones (HEZ) bill in the House of Delegates. Republicans offered a bill to initiate HEZs in the poorest sections of the Commonwealth to attract primary care physicians. The hospitals opposed it because it copied a mature program in Maryland that significantly reduced hospital admissions in those areas served. Democrats in Richmond would follow the hospital lobby over a cliff.

    Notably missing in action are the professional race organizations, from whom nothing is heard on this subject.

    I hope minority parents will remember that it in the main was conservatives advocating for the return of their kids to in-school instruction and liberals that opposed it.

    • RIght. We KNOW just how sincere Conservatives are about “poor” kids when they say they are screwed because of their parents and there is no cure for that… even when they are actually in school.

      Conservatives in general are far more interested in exploiting partisan differences these days than in really solving problems.

      interesting chart here:

      • Larry, I cite you as exhibit A.

        You still can’t bear to discuss the overwhelming and disproportionately negative effects of denial of in-school learning to poor kids.

        I rest my case.

        • Jim – I address that issue over and over here almost daily depending on the posts.

          The difference is that Conservatives types want to cause division and controversy over the issue as opposed to really address it in a meaningful way – where we actually see change – and they demonize those that do try – calling them leftists and social justice warriors and the like.

          When you guys actually get serious about doing real things about education for the disadvantaged instead of using it as an excuse for attack those who actually do – we can talk more.

          • I wrote legislation to get poor kids better medical care so that they can live lives to the fullest, including going to school, without so many health issues.

            I contacted every school superintendent in the Commonwealth with the link to the AAP guidelines, freeing them from the unfulfillable standard of 6 feet distancing that the state had given them. After I contacted the Governor’s Chief of Staff with the same information, the state backed off.

            Feel free to list the “real things” you have done for the poor.

          • Jim – all kids are already covered by Medicaid if parents don’t have insurance. About 40% of births are paid for by MedicAid.

            re: ” the unfulfillable standard of 6 feet ”

            I’m not yet convinced of the 3 foot thing but if more science says so – great.

            BUt the big thing is that we need to support public education and teachers – heed their concerns and try to find a way forward.

            All ya’ll are going is just continuing your war on public education… same old war – some new tactics.

          • Larry, my “war on education” includes six years as a volunteer 5 days a week teaching 5th graders how to multiply. They were supposed to know how to multiply by the end of the third grade. It was successful and very fulfilling. I recommend it to every retiree who can do it.

          • You did and I should give you credit for that. Unlike some critics, you’ve actually walked-the-walk a bit.

            So I retract that statement – about your views which do tend to be critical about subjects that you write about here.

            On the “variance” – they say they are “submitting” it. To whom?

            Finally – I ask – is the 6ft/3ft rule the main issue with re-opening schools full time for all?

            If this is what is holding back public schools – you may have touched on something that others have not including media.

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      Last year and this year will deliver a devastating blow to school performance in all communities. Moving to year round schooling with the bare minimum for holidays would do a great deal of good. Elementary and middle schools could make a nice bounce back if year round schooling is adopted. Students who receive free and reduced lunch must have year round schooling and maybe even a brief time of Saturday school as well.

  9. One of the advantages of private schools is smaller class sizes. One of the huge problems of public schools is larger class sizes.

    And you can’t make them smaller without bit structural issues with the facility and staffing which begates the “hybrid” that few seem to like.

    The virus is forcing us to different responses and as we encounter ones we don’t like – it will evolve further.

    We have solutions for both staffing and facility if we think about it.

    Para-educators are invaluable in many schools and they do not require the strict licensing of full-up teachers. Many are available right now for hire – in aspiring College students, retired teachers and others who have the background and skill to do that work.

    Similarly – there are other buildings in most communities – Community buildings, churches, fire stations, etc…

    more staff, smaller classrooms –

    The problem we have is that some are saying ” you must do it this way now or we’re gonna raise hell”.

    We need to start working together to find solutions and stop acting like squabbling five year olds.

  10. The Diocese of Richmond will open schools for full in-school instruction 5 days a week in compliance with the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines of 3-6 feet separation of desks.

    You can go the for the letter from the Diocese of Richmond.

    American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines: Elementary Schools:
    Diocese of Richmond
    Higher-priority strategies:
    • Children should wear face coverings when harms (eg, increasing hand-mouth/nose contact) do not outweigh benefits (potential COVID-19 risk reduction).
    • Desks should be placed 3 to 6 feet apart when feasible (if this reduces the amount of time children are present in school, harm may outweigh potential benefits).
    • Cohort classes to minimize crossover among children and adults within the school.
    • Utilize outdoor spaces when possible.

    Lower-priority strategies:
    • The risk reduction of reducing class sizes in elementary school-aged children may be outweighed by the challenge of doing so.
    • Similarly, reducing classmate interactions/play in elementary school-aged children may not provide enough COVID-19 risk reduction to justify potential harms.

    • Interesting – it appears that the main thing they are relying on is getting an exemption of the 6ft distance rule as AAP is advocating but they seem to be qualifying it by saying that all kids should wear masks.


      Is the 6ft rule alone what is driving the public schools to their “hybrid” models?

      • Correct. The 6 ft rule made both buses and classrooms too small to accommodate in-person schooling. If all of the desks face forward rather that arranged in the more recent collaboration style, most classrooms are large enough to accommodate their normal student loads. The Catholic schools will follow all of the AAP guidelines.

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