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When and How Can We Safely Reopen Schools?

Highlights from Dean Bridget Long’s conversation with Dr. Ashish Jha of the Harvard Chan School of Public Health on what states and districts should be considering as they look toward the fall.

Every mayor, every superintendent, and every parent has been grappling with the same question: Is it safe to go back to school? As part of HGSE’s webinar series Education Now, Dean Bridget Long spoke with Professor Ashish Jha, of the Harvard Chan School and the Harvard Global Health Institute, to explore the question.

“There aren’t easy answers,” Long said. Even for those schools that have already announed their fall plans or started school for the year, questions about how to manage ongoing risks, operate safely, and meet the needs of students will continue to linger. From their unique vantage points as institutional leaders and experts — as well as parents of school-aged children — Long and Jha weighed tradeoffs and offered useful and accessible insights. Here are a few of the highlights of their conversation. 

On which numbers and statistics we need to pay attention to, in order to make informed decisions about reopening schools:

On managing complexity:

On the public health and safety measures school should prioritize:

On the urgency of education: