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The Urgency and Challenge of Opening K-12 Schools in the Fall of 2020

Educational Objective
To understand the challenges involved in opening K-12 schools in the fall of 2020
1 Credit CME

The sudden closure of kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) schools nationwide this spring likely helped to avert a medical catastrophe from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This decisive step, however, is casting a long shadow. By the time the school year ends in June, more than 55 million US children will have missed months of in-class instruction.1 The educational effect to date represents only one dimension of the harm to children.

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CME Disclosure Statement: Unless noted, all individuals in control of content reported no relevant financial relationships. If applicable, all relevant financial relationships have been mitigated.

Article Information

Corresponding Author: Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 N Wolfe St, Room W1033F, Baltimore, MD 21209 (Joshua.Sharfstein@jhu.edu).

Published Online: June 1, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.10175

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

Additional Contributions: We acknowledge the research assistance of Trevor Wrobleski, BA, and the comments of Megan Collins, MD, MPH, and Anita Cicero, JD. They did not receive compensation.

References
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Bauer  L . The COVID-19 crisis has already left too many children hungry in America. Brookings. Accessed May 24, 2020. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2020/05/06/the-covid-19-crisis-has-already-left-too-many-children-hungry-in-america/
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Auxier  B , Anderson  M . As schools close due to the coronavirus, some US students face a digital ‘homework gap.’ Accessed May 24, 2020. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/03/16/as-schools-close-due-to-the-coronavirus-some-u-s-students-face-a-digital-homework-gap/
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Kuhfeld  M , Tarasawa  B . The COVID-19 slide: what summer learning loss can tell us about the potential impact of school closures on student achievement. Accessed May 24, 2020. https://www.nwea.org/content/uploads/2020/05/Collaborative-Brief_Covid19-Slide-APR20.pdf
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Esposito  S , Principi  N .  School closure during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic: an effective intervention at the global level?   JAMA Pediatr. Published online May 13, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.1892PubMedGoogle Scholar
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Bryant  J , Dorn  E , Hall  S , Panier  F . Safely back to school after coronavirus closures. McKinsey & Co. Accessed May 24, 2020. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/social-sector/our-insights/safely-back-to-school-after-coronavirus-closures
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Cicero  A , Potter  C , Kirk Sell  T , Rivers  C , Scoch-Spana  M . Filling in the blanks: national research needs to guide decisions about reopening schools in the United States. Accessed May 24, 2020. https://www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/our-work/pubs_archive/pubs-pdfs/2020/200515-reopening-schools.pdf
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Faden  R , Collins  M . There’s more to reopening than just deciding when to do it. Education Week. Accessed May 24, 2020. https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/05/08/lets-be-honest-about-the-ethical-trade-offs.html
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