As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and officials consider ways to safely resume different activities, the Assembly Health Committee held a hearing Friday to receive testimony from invited guests on the public health impacts of children returning to school in the Fall for in-person learning.
Health Committee Chair Herb Conaway, M.D. (D-Burlington) issued the following statement upon the conclusion of the hearing:
“As with many choices we have had to make during this pandemic, deciding when and how to send students back to school for in-person education is neither easy nor straightforward. There are many complex factors to consider, most importantly the safety and well-being of our children and the dedicated staff members who interact with them in our schools.
“Today’s speakers provided critical insight into these various considerations, such as the concern that children with disabilities are falling through the cracks while parents struggle to fulfill their special educational needs. Many parents will be unable to continue looking after their children 24/7 now that more are returning to their jobs, while other families lack access to the technology they would need to successfully continue remote learning.
“However, there is also real concern regarding in-person interactions – especially when it comes to staff, teachers and students who are immunocompromised or otherwise vulnerable to severe COVID-19 complications. We need to consider how well and how often students would follow safety guidelines and how realistic it would be for different schools to actually implement social distancing in crowded buildings.
“I want to thank everyone who participated in today’s hearing for their thoughtful perspectives. No matter how we proceed going forward, it is undeniable that this upcoming school year will be unlike any Fall we have dealt with in the past. We must adapt to the challenges before us and make the best decision we can with the information we have.”