Rossen Reports: Should schools reopen this fall?

How can your kids go back to school — without bringing back COVID-19 into your home with their homework?


Your child’s education is hanging in the balance — as politicians and health experts clash over how to get kids back in the classroom this fall.

With just a few weeks left in the summer — how can your kids go back to school — without bringing back COVID-19 into your home with their homework?

Our Chief National Consumer Correspondent Jeff Rossen is asking the experts how to get it done right.

Weighing in is Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University who also served as Baltimore's Health Commissioner.

With the president wanting to open schools in the fall, how does that align with what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising?

"The CDC has put out guidelines that are very common sense and actually I don’t think go far enough," Wen says. "What they’re asking for are really common sense things that we’ve been talking about already. For example, everybody wearing masks, hand-washing, keeping desk physically distant and making sure those that are ill and those that have symptoms are not at school.

"The key is here that these guidelines are based on science and if schools are unable to meet these guidelines, you don’t go out and change these guidelines, you help the schools to get there."

So what about resuming school this fall? Is this doable for schools? Is it too expensive?

"It depends on the part of the country you’re in," Wen says. "There are some parts of the country where there is not that high level of virus transmission and it would be safe to go back to school, but for many parts of the country there are more than 40 states where their level of infection is increasing. And what these states need to carefully consider is their priorities. Maybe what they need to do is close down bars for the summer in order to allow schools to reopen in the fall. This is not a matter of 'can we do this.' We can. We just need the resources and the will to do it."

How would closing bars and restaurants over the summer help schools to open?

"The key to getting schools to reopen is to have a reduced level of infection in the community," Wen says. "Right now in many of these hotspots we have a community infection rate of about 1 in 100. So if you have a school of 1,000 people, on day one walking in that’s ten people that have COVID-19 and are going to be spreading it to others. You cant open a school under conditions like that. And so you have to reduce the level of infection in the community and that may require closing down these venues, indoor gatherings that are becoming super spreader events such as bars and nightclubs."