Resources for Safe Schools During COVID

Schools in California and across the nation are returning to in-person instruction and planning for a broader reopening in the fall. How can schools reopen safely?

To help answer that question, earlier this week, Dr. Naomi Bardach joined RAMP for a presentation, COVID, Asthma, and Safe Schools. An Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Policy in the Department of Pediatrics and the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at the University of California San Francisco, Dr. Bardach is currently deployed to California’s Health and Human Services Agency to support safe school re-openings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Bardach shared that schools can safely reopen for several reasons: children are less likely to have severe disease outcomes and are less efficient than adults in transmitting the virus. Most children who tested positive for the virus were also likely to have acquired it outside of school.

Based on the available evidence, data suggest that safe school reopening is possible, when community prevalence is low and when strong preventive practices and testing are in place. The preventive practices include masks, physical distancing, screening, testing, ventilation, and small, stable groups.

Dr. Bardach affirmed that, while parents of children with asthma may feel concern about sending them to school, data show that asthma is not associated with risk of COVID infection nor with severe disease outcomes in children and youth.

She also underscored the fact that communities of color are disproportionately impacted by COVID and have historically under-resourced schools. She shared the California Safe Schools for All Plan, which focuses on equity and aims to eliminate these disparities.

The session concluded with a discussion of how vaccines change the reopening landscape. Not only do vaccines make school safer for the age groups that are able to get vaccinated (at this point, 12 and up), but the role of vaccines in reducing community spread makes reopening schools safer for all ages.

We encourage you to check out the materials from this presentation and help inform people with asthma in your community about both vaccines and safe schools. You can access the recording and slides here.

Warm regards,
RAMP staff