Former Emerging Leader Fellow Maggie Eisen is the Project Contact for Project ACE-IT, a new partnership with health departments and educational leaders across southeastern PA to implement school-based COVID-19 testing. Former Stoneleigh Fellow David Rubin is also a staff lead on the project.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, finding ways to safely reopen schools for in-person learning is a pressing need. Schools are at the heart of our communities, providing a critical outlet for children through education, safety, nutrition, behavioral health care and important opportunities for social interaction. While incredible efforts have been made to transition to virtual learning and ensure continuity in education, there is no substitute for in-person instruction or the crucial resources that brick-and-mortar schools provide for children, their families and communities.
While many school districts across the United States and around the world have successfully resumed in-person learning, and evidence suggests that schools have not typically been a significant source of COVID-19 spread(link is external), maintaining a healthy environment in which both students and staff feel safe remains a challenge. For children who are most in need of in-person education—such as those with special needs, who may not be able to adhere to physical distancing or wearing masks—and the educators who support them, this challenge is particularly salient. Multiple, layered strategies can accommodate the need for in-person learning while balancing the need to ensure that schools are safe environments where students, educators, staff and families alike can be confident in the measures taken to protect their health.