Safely restarting in-person education in our schools is one of the most difficult and important tasks we face as we strive for normalcy in the face of Covid. One of us is a doctor specializing in infectious disease control and the medical director of HealthyVerify Certification. The other is a school superintendent specializing in successfully educating our children. Covid required us to share our knowledge base in order to safely bring children back to school in person in the Avondale Elementary School District.
And now that Gov. Doug Ducey has ordered in-person learning to resume by March 15, the issue of how to safely operate schools is more important than ever.HealthyVerify played a critical role in helping to ensure that medical science and the art and science of educating children worked together in Avondale elementary schools to create a safe environment for learning and teaching. HealthyVerify is guided by medical professionals who have worked with private businesses and a number of public, public charter, and private schools to ensure full compliance with state and federal Covid mitigation measures.
Working with Dr. Moran and HealthyVerify, the Avondale Elementary School District established doable and effective protocols covering everything from physical distancing, and classroom sanitization and how we circulate through our schools. The school continues to benefit from having a third-party that also tracks any changes to state and federal requirements while providing the school with immediate feedback and responses to the numerous questions that arise from parents and staff.
If there is one message we would like to convey to schools that are going to return in person, it’s that they can open safely. It certainly takes patience, open communication between administrators, staff, and parents, and a commitment to do things the right way, all the time, every time.
HealthyVerify helped established the unique protocols we implemented at the Avondale Elementary School District. Other school districts that may have such resources in house could decide to develop protocols on their own. And that’s fine too.
The most important goal is to bring our kids back to the classroom in a safe and secure environment.
While we have incredible distance learning happening, most experts will agree that remote learning is no substitute for in-person learning. Kids have missed out on the benefits of the social interaction that comes with classroom learning as well as the in-person connections with adults.
Help is available from the public and private sectors. There are options for schools to open safely. The Avondale Elementary School District was fortunate enough to get the right tools and advice, thanks to HealthyVerify. They have been able to focus on learning and teaching while working alongside the experts to navigate Covid. The result is a safe learning environment for children and adults.
Ducey’s executive order means in-person learning is coming sooner than later for all schools. The school bell is about to ring statewide. We believe our schools, educators, and students can meet the challenge when they are armed with the correct resources as our experience working together in Avondale proves.
Dr. Ana Moran is an infectious disease doctor serving as medical director for HealthyVerify Certification and as faculty at Barrow Neurological Institute and Creighton University School of Medicine.
Betsy Hargrove is superintendent of the Avondale Elementary School District.