Does going back to school mean walking into danger?

SALT LAKE CITY — As school districts around the country finalize plans for the upcoming school year, staying safe from COVID-19 dominates discussions. Policymakers are grappling with whether schools will physically welcome students, continue online learning or take a hybrid approach combining elements of both.

Concerns reach well beyond student health and safety. Some parents and teachers say they’re leery of returning to school until they feel reassured schools can safely open without further fueling a pandemic that has devastated families and economies.

The issue is the novel coronavirus that’s infected more than 15 million worldwide, including 3.82 million In the United States, where more than 143,000 have died. Those numbers include more than 37,000 infections in Utah and at least 273 deaths.

While back-to-school plans vary across communities, some worries are shared. Teachers, many in high-risk categories should they get COVID-19, wonder if returning to the classroom means walking into danger. They have a lot of questions: What happens when the inevitable exposure occurs? Who quarantines? How do I stretch my day to teach in-person and also online. Can anyone really social distance in a crowded school? How do I address student anxiety? And the big one: Are proposed safety measures enough?

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