Is Reopening Schools Safe? Dr. Deborah Birx Tells Newsy It Depends.

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Is Reopening Schools Safe? Dr. Deborah Birx Tells Newsy It Depends.
Dr. Deborah Birx explains ways schools can use the CDC guidelines to reopen.
SHOW TRANSCRIPT

It’s the question on the minds of parents across the country: Is it safe for kids to return to school? We asked Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

“It really depends where you are. So right now in Houston and Miami, we're really seeing these large number of cases in Phoenix. Phoenix has a lot of cases. Yuma County has a lot of cases. Pima County has a lot of cases in Arizona, but there are a lot of other counties in Arizona that have very low case counts,” said Birx. 

Many school districts are relying on information from the CDC on how to safely reopen. But the administration has sent mixed messages. 

Yesterday, the president called those guidelines tough and expensive. The vice president then said new guidelines would come next week. 

But in an interview Thursday morning, CDC Director Robert Redfield said the current guidelines are here to stay.

Birx says schools need to look at what’s on the website now and use the parts that work for them. 

“Right now, the CDC guidelines are quite good, but very, very specific without showing, this is how you get to that same answer and that same safety construct, but here are three ways to get to it because each school may be different. Some of them may be in areas where you can have outdoor classrooms. Some of them may be in areas where ... there's a very large gym that could be easily sectioned off and increase ventilation,” suggested Birx. 

On Thursday, the World Health Organization finally published new findings saying the virus could be airborne and stays around for hours — something scientists around the world have been saying for months. 

So how does that work in enclosed classrooms? Birx says masks are crucial. 

“There's always an exception on droplet size and how it can be transmitted. And so there's always a bell shaped curve that says most of the transmission occurs with this size droplet,” Birx explained. 

She says fans and air circulation are important to consider as schools begin to reopen next month. 

Amber Strong, Newsy, the White House.