OC School Board to Consider Return to Classes With No Social Distancing

COSTA MESA (CNS) - The Orange County Board of Education is scheduled to meet tonight to discuss a recommendation from a panel of experts that determined it is safe to open schools next month without social distancing.

The Board of Education held a meeting last month with experts who concluded in a “white paper'' that requiring students to wear masks “is not only difficult, but may even be harmful over time.''

The experts also concluded that “social distancing of children and reduction of classroom size and census may be considered, but not vital to implement for school aged children,'' and advised that parents “are in the best position to determine the education environment that best suits their children rather than government officials.''

If a school district “is unable or unwilling to reopen schools in a manner that resumes a typical classroom environment and school atmosphere, parents should be allowed to send their children to another school district or charter school that will provide that preferred education,'' the experts wrote. “In fact, many parents stated they will opt for private schools or home schooling if their child does not have a typical interactive academic classroom environment.''

The experts advised regular temperature checks, encouraged “good hygiene with frequent hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer,'' as well as the cleaning of classrooms, meeting rooms, buses and administrative offices nightly.

The panel downplayed the infectiousness and impact COVID-19 among children, and concluded that teachers are more at risk of getting sick from another teacher or staff member than they are from children.

Los Angeles Unified, the nation's second-largest school district, came to a different conclusion, as did the San Diego Unified School District.

LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner announced this morning that the district's campuses will remain closed when classes resume Aug. 18. He says the “health and safety of all in the school community is not something we can compromise.''

San Diego Unified announced Monday that campuses will remain closed when the district resumes classes Aug. 31, with all courses remaining online only.

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