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Covid-19 keeps putting the new school year in total limbo

July 1, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

School districts are having to make multiple plans for the new academic year that starts in just a few weeks, not knowing what the state of the coronavirus will be and whether it will be safe to have children in classes.

(CNN)Coronavirus is surging around the country just as many school districts are trying to finalize what classes will look like for 56 million students in the new academic year.

The uncertainty of how and where the virus will move is forcing schools to make multiple plans so they can stay flexible just a few weeks before the start of the 2020-21 year.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has pushed its start date for in-person schools back to August 17 as it emerges as one of the current hotspots, but that doesn't solve things for the state's Superintendent of Public Instruction, Kathy Hoffman.

"Always make the goal that it is very important to get the children back to school for the unintended negative consequences that occur when we keep them out of school," he said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics said this week that many children were already suffering because of school closures.

"Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation," the group said.

But Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said the health of staff in schools had to be considered too.

She said schools in areas with outbreaks would have to change their plans to reopen.

"There's no reopening the economy if kids are not in school," said Joseph Allen, assistant professor at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, and the lead author of a new report on risk reduction strategies for reopening schools.

He agreed that schools trying to open would likely need the flexibility of modified schedules along with some distance learning and protocols for cleaning, distancing and wearing masks.

Alabama State Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey said there were widely varying ideas of how schools should look, even from community to community.

Daniel Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, was a school superintendent for 27 years and knows how much staff, parents and children just want answers.

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