People across the United States are eager to return to some semblance of “normal.” To do so, we must meet a herculean challenge: remaking our society and the places in our lives we hold dear—public schools and colleges, places of worship, workplaces, restaurants and more—in ways that hold paramount our ultimate priorities: the safety and well-being of our children, families and communities; the safety of our members and every frontline worker; and the health of our economy and economic well-being of working families. Physical distancing efforts have slowed the rate of COVID-19 infections, but no expert believes we will eradicate this virus without a vaccine. Reopening prematurely by relaxing stay-in-place restrictions and resuming large public gatherings runs the risk of undoing the work of the last two months. A premature return to full commercial activity risks a second surge of infections and second lockdown as is happening in Singapore right now. Even once public health officials deem it safe to reopen, doing so without the necessary precautions could be deadly.
The 20-page, science-based “Plan to Safely Reopen America’s Schools and Communities” sprung from an intense collaboration of public health professionals, union leaders and frontline workers to prepare for what happens next in the period between flattening the curve and truly eradicating the virus.
This document provides a roadmap for navigating the next steps. It provides specific guidance for transitioning from lockdowns to other public health tools to limit the transmission of COVID-19. It focuses on reopening school buildings in particular, because the safe reopening of public school buildings means students can go to school, and parents, who work outside the home, can go to work. That is key to the reopening of the broader economy.
We expect the plan to evolve and adapt over time. It rests on five pillars that draw on the best available science and public health guidance, and the expertise of educators and health practitioners. Click here to read the full document, "A Plan to Safely Reopen America’s Schools and Communities."