Montco releases coronavirus guidance for reopening schools

Back-to-school reopening plan
Photo credit Amy Mitchell/Getty Images
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Montgomery County released new coronavirus-related guidance for schools when they reopen in the fall — purposely calling it “guidance,” as Commissioner Val Arkoosh noted each school district is different.

Even within each district, school buildings differ.

“In some classrooms where 6 feet of distance isn’t possible, we’ve talked about students having sneeze guards around them to have an added layer of protection,” Arkoosh said.

The guidance advises educators on social distancing and mask-wearing.

As for face masks: “We would recommend kids keep the masks on as much as possible, but they absolutely can take mask breaks. But when they take the masks off, they absolutely do need to be 6 feet apart.”

The county has worked with every school district to create a list that “balances that important need to get children — particularly younger children — back into classrooms for in-person instruction.”

Arkoosh said the guidance is designed to reduce the risk of spreading or contracting COVID-19 as much as possible, but no plan can promise there will be no virus. She said families need to evaluate their own situation to decide what’s best for them.

It may not always be possible, but schools should also consider holding classes or lunch outside when weather permits.

“Outdoors is always safer than indoors,” added Arkoosh.

Other recommendations include creating a room or location where someone who develops symptoms could be isolated from other students or staff, and establishing a pandemic team or coordinator, along with a communications system, so family and staff can self-report any symptoms.

If school staff live in an area that may be experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 cases, she encourages school administrators to work with them to ensure they’re as safe as possible outside of work. And, consider having them wear a mask and a face shield.

Every school across the country is trying to order the same supplies, so there may be some challenges. While they’re doing their best to plan accordingly, Arkoosh said the situation is constantly changing, and she asks people to be understanding.

The county outlines its guidance for schools below: