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Public health expert weighs in on changes Michigan schools may have to make this fall

(WJRT)
Published: Jun. 17, 2020 at 8:55 PM EDT
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(06/17/20) - Students, teachers, parents and staff may be heading back to school buildings this fall, according to Governor Whitmer's

, but everything from the classrooms to the process to enter them could look a lot different than it has in the past.

Former public health advisor Wendy Ringo, MD, MPH talked about some general safety measures she expects to be put in place.

"We're going to have some very rigorous personal and environmental sanitation guidelines. We would also possibly expect to see a decrease in class sizes as we are attempting to adhere to the social distancing guidelines," Dr. Wendy Ringo said.

Along with increased hand washing and decreases in class size, Dr. Ringo wouldn't be surprised to see alternating class days for select groups, continued e-learning, rooms set aside for isolation of someone who is possibly sick, and items commonly shared or touched disinfected more frequently.

She says it's important for everyone to remain flexible because the COVID-19 prevention plan could look different depending on how hard the virus has hit a specific community.

"We need to be prepared to adjust as cases may have an ebb and flow," Ringo said. "The needs of one community surely vary from the needs of another."

Dr. Ringo, who is working closely with the CDC during the COVID-19 pandemic, has seen pandemics up close before, namely the 2009 H1N1 influenza outbreak.

We found this

from the CDC during that time for K thru 12 schooling:

The CDC (1) encouraged vaccination, (2) advised the sick to stay home and recommended (3) separating sick students and staff and more.

The governor's

Return to School Advisory Council

has been working on its own set of recommendations to make sure the transition back to school is safe and smooth. Dr. Ringo says the most difficult part to deal with in all this could be mental for staff and students.

"Managing the fears and concerns associated with possibly coming in contact with it or testing positive for COVID-19...I think that above and beyond all things is a very pressing issue and concern, and may be a very hard and difficult hurdle to overcome," Ringo said.

Whitmer says she will release guidelines on June 30, which will "set the minimum health and safety requirements." Individual school districts can choose to be more aggressive to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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