Classified As 'Low Risk,' Experts Urge Preschools To Welcome Students Back Amid Coronavirus Crisis

Matt Bigler
July 24, 2020 - 4:00 am

    Related: Teachers Weigh Risks, Uncertainty In Preparing For School

    While most school districts are planning to go virtual to start the new academic year, many preschools remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic despite what may seem like a risky time to have a child in school.

    Education experts are urging parents to send younger kids back as soon as possible. Full disclosure - I am one of those parents of a preschool age child. Our daughter, Rebekah, hasn't been back to her school since the shelter-in-place started in early March.

    "I miss everybody in my school," she said.

    A new national survey of 1,000 parents finds some four million preschoolers lost their programs due to the coronavirus crisis.

    "Those children will be further behind because of these lost opportunities," said Dr. Steve Barnett, Co-Director of the National Institute of Early Education Research at Rutgers University.

    Evianna Van Santvoord, who is in kindergarten, does her schoolwork at home on March 18, 2020 in San Anselmo, California.
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    He told KCBS Radio he’s urging preschools to reopen, and said they serve the lowest-risk population that's also the hardest to teach remotely.

    "There is no substitute for in-person, hands-on learning, social play," Dr. Barnett said.

    That means safety requirements like outdoor play, keeping kids in small groups and, of course, masks or face shields. Rebekah said she's ready for those changes.

    "Now I do want to wear a mask in the school because the coronavirus is here," she said.

    We're planning to send her back to a real school when her older brother starts virtual 2nd grade.