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THOUGHT LEADER


Getting Students Back to School Written By Ned Einstein B


ecause of social distancing, classrooms and school buses can only be filled to one-fourth of their capacities. This constraint alone requires that a broad range of dramatic changes be made


in order for our children to return to physical school with- out placing our entire population at greater risk than we already are. Using the key points below, state educational and transportation officials can tweak this model into a formal, detailed plan and hand it to their respective gov- ernors. With such plans implemented, students in many or most states, who mostly returned only to virtual school this fall, will be able to attend school physically, three days a week, beginning this coming March. From this article’s publication, students, teachers, school bus drivers and others will have five months to prepare. And changing the school year to March through November will permit most classes (even in northern states) to be held outdoors, where the virus’ spread is significantly weaker.


46 School Transportation News • OCTOBER 2020


The steps outlined below are not a menu. Every sin- gle element must be accomplished to have a realistic chance of success. The pace of the pandemic’s growth, while marked by peaks and valleys, is still accelerat- ing, and may soon become irreversible, with a level of carnage that would have been inconceivable even six months ago. With 68,000-plus new cases on July 31, we surpassed 6.91 million by Sept. 22, with 201,000 deaths. Because of deliberate under-testing, it is impossible to know how many cases we genuinely have now, much less accurately projecting into the future. But the deaths are harder to hide. Things change constantly in different places, at different times:


• As of Aug. 12, the number of cases worldwide had doubled compared to the previous six weeks.


• While still growing, cases in the U.S. have been growing more slowly—with slightly more than 39,000 on Sept. 16.


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