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School Reopenings: Study Finds Low Infection Rates Among In-Person Classes So Far

PALO ALTO (KPIX 5) – School bells are still largely silent around the Bay Area and California as the COVID-19 pandemic wears on. The question is, is it safe to get in person learning started again?

A study out of Brown University, surveying over 200,000 students and teachers who did return to the classroom found a positivity rate of .13 percent for students and .24 for teachers.

"For me right now, the benefits of having our kids in school outweigh the risks," says Stanford pediatrician Dr. Alan Schroeder.

That recommendation does come with a caveat. "It means symptom screening, lots of hand washing, it means mask wearing, it means spacing to the extent that we can and I think that one of the most important factors is the community prevalence needs to be low," he said.

Marin County parent Marilee Shea, whose first grader has been distance learning since March, concurs.

"Why aren't we able to do it safely and in a way where our children are being educated better. Again, it's just not working for our kids. They just aren't getting the right education that I think they need," Shea told KPIX5 via Zoom.

But it's not just parents and students needed to make a school work.

"We need students and also our employees on campus in order to return to in-person instruction," said San Jose Unified School district spokesperson Jennifer Maddox.

Getting teachers like Willow Glen High School's Jody Diasario on board could be a tough sell.

"Those kids live with people and they live with people who can spread it, who are likely to spread it," Disario told KPIX5 via Zoom.

Palo Alto Teacher COVID-19 Testing
Teachers in Palo Alto undergo COVID-19 testing, October 21, 2020. (CBS)

In Palo Alto, the safety gap is being bridged by COVID-19 testing for teachers - provided by the district.

"We want to make sure that our families and teachers feel safe coming to school. So this is one way for us to create some reassurances for our families, but it is also doing our larger part to support our community," said Asst. Superintendent Yolanda Conaway of the Palo Alto Unified School District.

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