School Closures for Coronavirus Could Extend to the End of School Year, Some Say—-Leyden and Norwood Park School Districts Need to Consider The Inevitable and Begin the Community Conversation

For the second time this school year, starting first with the Chicago Teachers’ Union strike, Chicago families face an uncertain future as all schools close Tuesday — but this time it’s because of the coronavirus outbreak that has taken over life in the United States.
City and schools officials are making efforts to ease the burden on families in need, but Mayor Lori Lightfoot acknowledged Monday that it’s not yet clear whether school can resume at the end of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s mandated two-week closure March 31.


This is clear that the closure of the Chicago Public Schools may be longer than March 31, 2020, after Mayor Lightfoot made the following statement:

“This is an incredibly fluid situation, which is an understatement,” Lightfoot told reporters after touring the district’s coronavirus command center. “I don’t want to get ahead of myself and predict what may be happening in April because as a matter of fact it’s hard for us to predict what’s going to happen one or two days in advance.”

Is this a sign that all school districts will not return to opening their schools until later in April, May or for that matter is the school year over for this year ?  For those parents in Leyden Township this conversation needs to commence so proper planning can begin for the inevitable.

“This may not peak until the latter part of April or May, so we’ve informed the superintendents while we’ve closed schools for three weeks, the odds are that this is going to go on a lot longer, and it would not surprise me at all if schools did not open again this year,” said Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, on CNN’s State of the Union.
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered public schools in New York City to close until April 20, despite Mayor Bill de Blasio’s concerns over the impact of an extended closure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidance on Friday saying that in areas with “substantial community spread” of the coronavirus, closures need to last a minimum of four to eight weeks to serve as a “larger community mitigation strategy.”

The College Boards have in response to the rapidly evolving situation around the coronavirus (COVID-19), the May 2, 2020 SAT administration is canceled. Makeup exams for the March 14 administration (scheduled for March 28) are also canceled. Registered students will receive refunds.

Closing schools for eight weeks or more may have a greater impact on mitigating the spread of the novel coronavirus than two- to four-week closures, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said.

Considerations for School Closure and the Length of that Closure

Recommendations by the CDC  on school closure based on available science, reports from other countries and consultation with school health experts.

1. There is a role for school closure in response to school-based cases of COVID-19 for decontamination and contact tracing (few days of closure), in response to significant absenteeism of staff and students (short to medium length, i.e. 2-4 weeks of closure), or as part of a larger community mitigation strategy for jurisdictions with substantial community spread* (medium to long length, i.e. 4-8 weeks or more of closure).

2. Available modeling data indicate that early, short to medium closures do not impact the epi curve of COVID-19 or available health care measures (e.g., hospitalizations). There may be some impact of much longer closures (8 weeks, 20 weeks) further into community spread, but that modelling also shows that other mitigation efforts (e.g., handwashing, home isolation) have more impact on both spread of disease and health care measures. In other countries, those places who closed school (e.g., Hong Kong) have not had more success in reducing spread than those that did not (e.g., Singapore).

3. In places where school closures are necessary, the anticipated academic and economic impacts and unintended impacts on disease outcomes must be planned for and mitigated. Provision of academic support (e.g., tele-ed), alternatives for school-based meals as well as other services (e.g., behavioral and mental health services) for economically and physically vulnerable children, support for families for whom telework and paid sick leave is not available, ensuring that high risk individuals continue to be protected must all be addressed. Special consideration must be given for health care workers so that school closures do not impact their ability to work.

*Substantial community spread is defined as large scale community transmission, health care staffing significantly impacted, multiple cases within communal settings.

Shorter-term closures will likely make little difference in the spread of the disease, new CDC guidance states, even as K-12 school districts across the country began announcing school closures within the shorter time frame.

Further, short-term closures may actually have detrimental effects, negatively impacting older caregivers at home, the CDC said.
Closing schools also comes with its own setbacks, namely a potentially negative impact on academic outcomes, which the CDC also acknowledged in its updated guidelines. The Department of Education recently issued its own guidance to educators about its flexibility related to student absences and testing standards.

Closing schools also comes with its own setbacks, namely a potentially negative impact on academic outcomes, which the CDC also acknowledged in its updated guidelines. The Department of Education recently issued its own guidance to educators about its flexibility related to student absences and testing standards.
In any school closure, students could still congregate outside of school and spread the disease, the CDC acknowledged.

Leyden High Schools requested that the students clear out their lockers when they departed on Friday, March 13, 2020;   that is a clear indication that the District is preparing for the inevitable, which is that no students will be returning to the buildings to complete this academic year.

It is becoming quite clear that it is most likely, that all of our areas schools will remain closed for the balance of the academic school year and we all need to plan to manage our students for the balance of the academic year.

The sooner that the everyone honestly confronts this inevitable conclusion of the school year, the better the community of students, parents and the general public can prepare to manage this major shift in the educational environment for the balance of the school year and better plan child care.

Let’s begin that community conversation now and not delay the factual discussion.



About royfmc

BS in Environmental Engineering from Northwestern University's McCormick College of Engineering MBA from DePaul University's Kellstadt's College of Business JD from DePaul University's College of Law Website:
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