Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) predicted this week that public school students will return to their school buildings this fall, but he also said school officials would accommodate children in new ways because of COVID-19.
Alexander said this on FOX News this week and posted video of his appearance on Twitter.
The surest sign we're beginning to regain the rhythm of American life will come when our 70 million students go back to school, and all roads back to school lead through testing. This fall, we expect to have the capacity to do 40-50 million tests. @AmericaNewsroom @SandraSmithFox pic.twitter.com/ihZphKieRJ
— Sen. Lamar Alexander (@SenAlexander) May 22, 2020
“There are some health risks. Dr. Fauci warned against cavalierly dismissing those, but we do know that COVID-19 has been less damaging to young people even though they may carry it to older people,” Alexander told host Sandra Smith.
“I think that most principals and most school boards are making plans to go back to school in August, because any teacher can tell you there are other risks — the risk of social, intellectual, and emotional damage to a child who might lose an entire school year. We want to avoid that.”
But, as Alexander went on to say, children at school should practice social distancing and wear masks. And school officials should plan for other changes, he said.
“That means changing some schedules, and the governments will have to relax some of the rules to give schools more flexibility in scheduling their classes‚ having smaller classrooms and staggering classes so that you might begin early. The schedule might begin early. Colleges are starting early in August and going home before Thanksgiving so they avoid the peak of the flu season,” Alexander said.
“Schools don’t have the same problem of kids going all the way home during Thanksgiving or going all the way home during Christmas. They might consider that schedule change as well. In addition there will be a lot of attention to flu shots and pneumonia shots and there should be, but it’s the usual thing. Social distancing. Wash your hands. Stay apart from one another and then regular testing. If you find a child in a classroom who is infected, he is or she is removed from the classroom. You test all the other children in the classroom and make sure the school is safe.”
As The Tennessee Star reported earlier this month, Alexander said someone could potentially test themselves for COVID-19 using something as seemingly mundane as a lollipop.
Alexander chaired a hearing this month —“Shark Tank: New Tests for COVID-19”—that featured testimony from Dr. Francis Collins of the National Institutes of Health and Dr. Gary Disbrow of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. They discussed efforts to create new technologies designed to produce tens of millions of COVID-19 tests.
Alexander worked with Senate Health Appropriations Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) to include what he called a “shark-tank”— like effort in the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act that provided an additional $25 billion for COVID-19 testing.
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